“Thank you. Yes, Ma’am. Yes, I understand. Thank you again… Fuck.” Nicole Haught groaned into her hands after she hung up her phone and tossed it down on the table beside her. “God damn, son of a- Waverly! Hi!” The string of profanities abruptly ended as the youngest Earp walked up to the deputy’s table.
“Hey, yourself.” Waverly beamed at her, switching out her empty cup of coffee for a fresh one. Nicole hadn’t asked for another cup, but she’d been nursing the empty one for twenty minutes now. Waverly had taken it upon herself to get her a refill.
"How’s the apartment hunting going?”
“Terribly.” Nicole sighed. Picking up her red pen, she scribbled out the fifth ad she’d circled in the local paper. “This town doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to renting.”
“This town doesn’t have a whole load of anything.” Waverly pointed out. Pulling out the chair opposite Nicole’s, she sat down and picked up the paper, scrutinizing the adds that Nicole had yet to cross off. “Ooh, here’s a good one. One bedroom, luxury apartment, with on-site super.”
“Yeah, I already called. It’s a dude renting out a room in his house. A house he still shares with his mother; and seven cats.”“Well, you’re a cat person?” Waverly suggested, wearing her trademark optimistic grin.
Nicole rolled her eyes as she took the paper back from her. Scanning her eyes over the page, she picked up on a small add that she’d missed earlier. “This looks promising. One bedroom apartment in a duplex. Central location... Hell, it’s within spitting distance of the station. Rent isn’t too steep either.”
“Let me see.” Waverly leaned over the table to peer at the ad, her hair falling down around her face like a curtain. It smelled like honey and almonds, and a strand of it tickled against Nicole’s cheek. The young deputy tensed, holding her breath in a vain attempt not to inhale the other girl’s rich scent.
“Oh, you can forget about that one.” Waverly dismissed with a wave of her hand, finally pulling back to sit down again. “That’s old Mrs Thompson’s building. She only rents to couples.”
“What is this, the fifties?” Nicole cracked a smile, showing off two rows of pearly white teeth. “I’m going to give her a call.”
“I wouldn’t.” Advised Waverly, with a shake of her head. “Mrs Thompson doesn’t rent to single people. Everyone in town knows that.”
“But… I’m a cop!” Nicole spluttered. “I mean, that’s illegal! She can’t refuse to let to me because I’m single!”
“Well, you could go to Nedley about it… but seeing as she’s his aunt, it probably won’t get you anywhere.” The younger girl shrugged, deflating Nicole altogether.
“How long till your old landlord sells your place?”
“Gary already sold it. The new buyers move in next Thursday, and I have six days to find a new place to live. Which, you know, also illegal.”
“Gary’s Nedley’s cousin.” Waverly pointed out with a sympathetic note in her voice.
“I hate small towns.” Nicole took another heavy sigh, slumping forwards on the table.
“Hey now.” Waverly placed her hand on the deputy’s arm in an attempt to console her. “Purgatory has it fair share of problems, but isn’t all bad.” She squeezed Nicole’s arm lightly before heading off to serve a customer waiting over by the bar.
“No, no it's not.” Nicole agreed whimsically, trying not to stare as Waverly ducked under the bar to see to her thirsty patrons. “This place does have its attractions.”
“And that’s the end of the tour. It’s a little small, but I reckon it’s homely.” Margery Thompson did a little flourish with her hands, both of them almost touching walls at opposite ends of the kitchen. ‘Homely’, Nicole figured, was country for tiny. She could hardly grumble, though, not when the rent was fifty bucks cheaper than her current place, and a stone’s throw away from the station. Nicole wasn’t much of a cook anyhow. There was a fridge and a microwave and that would just about see her through.
“Yes ma’am, it’s charming.” Nicole laid the charm on thick, just like she had done when she’d called to arrange a viewing of the apartment. She was still dressed in her work uniform and standing at ease with her hands on her belt. “I’d love to take it off your hands, that is if you’ll have me.” Nicole flashed her a smile.
“Well, I’ve heard great things from Gary Telford. I called him after your call yesterday and he was singing your praises. It’s such a shame he had to sell up.”
“That it is.” Nicole agreed, finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The way the old woman was talking, she had the apartment in the bag. “I have to be out in five days. I have money for a deposit, and I’m more than willing to pay a month or two in advance-”
“That’s just swell.” Margery fluffed at her permed hair. The blue rinse gave her skin a sallow look. “Other than some boring paperwork, there’s just one more formality to get through.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“I just need to meet your partner, dear.”
“Partner?” Nicole frowned. “I don’t actually work with a partner, the station’s pretty small and-”
“No, no, dear. You’re partner.” Margery repeated with a small chuckle. “It’s okay, you don’t have to be coy. Nedley, my sweet nephew, told me you were a homosexual. I have no problem whatsoever with your kind. I do, however, make a habit of only renting to couples. It’s so much safer. Keeps out the riff-raff you know.”
“Right.” Nicole agreed, nodding dumbly. “So you need to meet my uh…”
“Wife? Or fiancee, or-”
“Girlfriend?” Nicole finished for her. Margery nodded, smiling kindly and waiting for her to elaborate on which it was. “Right. You need to meet my girlfriend. She couldn’t be here this afternoon, but I will absolutely bring her by tomorrow.”
“Wonderful!” The old lady clapped her hands together. “You bring her on by tomorrow and we’ll sort out the paperwork.”
“Great.” Nicole forced a smile, her cheeks aching from the effort as her heart sunk. Waverly had been right after all.
“Hey, Nicole! Usual?” Waverly greeted the other woman with a wide-eyed smile. Usually, the sight of Waverly Earp alone would be enough to cheer Nicole up, but even Waverly couldn’t lift her spirits.
“Actually, I’ll take a beer.” Nicole took her hat off and placed it down on the bar beside her. It was just before happy hour, and the place was practically deserted.
Waverly quirked a brow at the request but turned to get her a beer anyway. “Drinking on a school night, huh?” She smirked as she popped the bottle top off and slid the beer on over to her. “Must have been one hell of a day.”
“I went to see that apartment. The one Margery Thompson is letting.”
“Really? What was it like? Did you get it?” Waverly was like a five-year-old on a sugar trip as she leant eagerly across the bar.
“It was great. And, uh… yeah. She sort of offered it to me.” Nicole took a hefty swig of her beer.
“Yeah. The place is mine if I want it… Well, mine and my girlfriend’s.”
“You have a girlfriend?” Waverly demanded, brow knitting in confusion. Her cheeks coloured as she stood back up, trying not to show how much it bothered her.
"No. That’s the problem.” Nicole deadpanned, resting her chin in her hand. “You were right. Margery Thompson will only rent to couples. I told her I had a girlfriend, and that we’d stop by to sign the papers tomorrow. So I’m basically screwed, and in a few days I’ll be homeless.”
“You told her you were seeing someone? And you’re not, right?” Waverly clarified, trying to keep up with her. Nicole nodded in the affirmative. “Why don’t you just pretend to be dating someone? Take them along with you to sign the papers and be done with it?”
“That’s a great idea!” Nicole perked up. Why hadn’t she considered that? She just needed Margery to think she had a partner, that’s all. Nicole wore a coy smile as she trailed the tip of her finger around the rim of her beer bottle. “I’d just need a real good friend to do me a solid and-”
“Nicole Haught, are you asking me to be your pretend girlfriend?” Waverly teased, her eyes alight with
“Unless you’ve got a better offer?” Nicole decided to poke fun, just to see how far she could push it.
“Hmm, well I was thinking of washing my hair.” Waverly laughed, flicking out her hair with an exaggerated sigh. Nicole froze, her thoughts turning to the sweet scent of honey and almonds. Her smile wavered. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“Uh, in that case, I could ask Wynonna instead-”
“Yeah, good luck with that. Mrs Thompson hates Wynonna. Unless Doc or Dolls are next on your list, it looks like you’re stuck with little ol’ me.”
“I suppose you’ll do.” Nicole smirked at the look of contempt she received from the younger girl.
“Small town, remember? Limited options.” Waverly smirked back at her as she snatched her beer bottle out of her hand and helped herself to a drink. “Better get used to it, Deputy.”
“You’re sure about this?” Nicole asked for the dozenth time as she glanced over at Waverly in the passenger seat beside her. “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I can turn back now. I’ll move back into the motel-”
“The motel is so bad that even the roaches stay away.” Waverly rolled her eyes at the sheriff’s deputy. “This is totally fine. It’s going to work. I am excellent girlfriend material.”
“You sure are.” Nicole muttered under her breath as she steered the car into an empty parking space out in front of Margery’s building. She killed the engine and took a deep breath, trying to summon the courage to step outside the car. Waverly beat her to it.
“Come on slow-coach!”
“That girl’s going to be the death of me.” Nicole shook her head, before pushing open the door of her cruiser and stepping out to follow her. “Waverly, I’m not so sure about this-”
“Officer Haught!” Margery Thompson appeared at the top of the small set of steps that led up to the building’s front door. She was wearing a garish yellow dress, which clashed terribly with her blue rinse. She waved at Nicole, but her attention was fixed on Waverly.
“Waverly Earp, as I live and breathe!” The old woman didn’t stand on ceremony as she hurried down the steps and flung her arms around the tiny girl. “How are you, my dear? Don’t tell me you’re the lucky girl dating this fine young officer?”
“Guilty as charged.” Waverly laughed. She was a natural with people and it showed in the way she wrapped the older woman around her little finger. “It is so good to see you, Mrs Thompson. I missed you at Shorty’s last Wednesday.” Wednesday was bingo night, and Margery Thompson rarely missed a session.
"Why thank you, Waverly. I couldn’t go on account of my hip playing up. These old bones ain’t what they used to be.”
“Oh, come on Mrs T. You’re barely a day over forty-five.”
“And the rest!” Margery chuckled, linking her arm into Waverly’s as she made her way back up the steps. “Come along, Nicole. We’ll go inside and fill out those forms.”
Less than an hour later, Nicole was sitting on the couch of her new - fully furnished - apartment. It had been so much easier than she was expecting. Waverly had charmed the pants off of her new landlord. Mrs Thompson had even given her a discount on the first month’s rent. “You are incredible.” Nicole beamed at her. “Seriously. You’re something else, Waverly Earp.”
“You’re not too shabby yourself.” Waverly laughed, throwing herself down onto the couch beside her. She propped her feet up on the coffee table, glancing around at Nicole’s new place. “You owe me big time for this.”
“How about coffee?” Nicole suggested, making Waverly’s face scrunch up.
“Nice try. I’m thinking at least dinner.”
“Hey, let me get that for you!” Nicole stepped forward to help her elderly landlady as she struggled with two overstuffed bags of groceries.
“Thank you, Deputy Haught.” Mrs Thompson eagerly handed the bags over, letting Nicole take them as they climbed the few steps up to the communal entrance of their building.
Nicole had been living in her new apartment for a little over a week. She’d bumped into Margery more times in the hall than she’d have liked, but the eccentric old woman wasn’t too bad. Margery lived on the first floor, while Nicole was up on the third. The deputy walked past the staircase, carrying the bags right up to her landlady’s door.
“Thank you, Dear.” Margery beamed at her like a kindly old grandma. There was a sharpness to her eyes, though. Like she was still sizing her newest resident up. “I haven’t seen much of Waverly.” Her tone was sugar sweet but laced with accusation.
“Uh…Um…” Nicole stammered, struggling to come up with a convincing reason why her supposed girlfriend - not to mention flatmate - hadn’t been around since the first day they’d moved in. “Waverly is…uh… Still packing.” She finished lamely, offering Margery a weak smile.
“She’s moving in this weekend.” Nicole elaborated, the lie quickly spinning out of her control. “We weren’t really expecting to move in together this soon, but things just kind of fell into place.”
“Hmm.” Margery made a clucking noise with her tongue and Nicole was sure she’d seen right through her lie as her eyes narrowed. She held her breath, waiting for the inevitable. “Waverly is a sweet child, and Lord knows she’s been through a lot in her short time on this earth. Just you remember that, Deputy. That Waverly Earp is an angel, and you best treat her as such!”
“Yes… Yeah. Of course.” Nicole was growing flustered as she set the bags of groceries down on the floor by her neighbour’s door. “Trust me, ma’am, I’m all too aware of just how special Waverly is.” Margery carried on staring her down until she suddenly seemed happy with the answer.
“Good.” She gave a stout nod, thanking Nicole once again for helping her inside. Nicole tipped her hat at the old woman before scrambling up the stairs to the third floor. She shrugged off her jacket and tossed her hat onto the side table by the front door. Her phone was in her hand before she knew it and her fingers were deftly dialing Waverly’s number.
“Pick up. Pick up…” Nicole paced impatiently back and forth in the living room, willing Waverly to answer her phone already. It was still early, so she probably hadn’t left for work yet. “Come on, come on…”
“Nicole? What’s up?” Waverly answered cheerfully on the other end. “We don’t have plans do we?” She sounded uncertain for a second. Waverly wasn’t the type to normally forget about social engagements.
“No, no. I uh, are you working tonight?”
“Nope. Got the night off.” Waverly answered rather quickly. “How about you?”
“Great. I just got off work. Would you… do you want to come by?”
“Give me half an hour.”
“Going somewhere?” Wynonna had been eavesdropping by her sister’s bedroom door. It was hardly the first time. She wore a smug grin as she propped herself against the wall. “Hot date?” Wynonna waggled her eyebrows suggestively at Waverly. She’d broken up with Champ weeks ago now. In her sister’s opinion, it was definitely time for Waverly to get back in the saddle.
“Uh… sort of.” Waverly blushed. She hadn’t told Wynonna about her and Nicole’s little arrangement yet. “Actually, I’m going over to Nicole’s new place.”
"Haught got a new place? Where’s she staying? Not a lot of options in this town. I half expected her to end up on our couch.”
“Oh. Well. She’s staying in that apartment complex a few blocks over from the station.” Waverly deliberately kept her answers vague.
“By the station?” Wynonna took a minute to mull it over. There wasn’t a whole lot of town, so it didn’t take her long to figure out which building Waverly was referring to. “That old windbag Mrs Thompson’s place?”
“Yeah. That one.”
“Huh. I didn’t know Haught-stuff was seeing anyone. Who’s the lucky fella?”
"Seriously?” Waverly gave her older sister a deadpan stare of disbelief. “Nicole is… Officer Haught is-”
“As bent as a three dollar bill?” Wynonna cracked a smile at her own joke, ignoring the glare Waverly sent her way. “Yeah, I’m not blind. Who’s she shacked up with anyway?”
Something about Wynonna’s smug grin set something off in the youngest Earp. Wanting to wipe that smile right off of her sister’s face, Waverly placed her hands on her hips and lifted her chin, before boldly answering with, “Me.”
Thanks for all the hits and the feedback. The first chapter posted as 1 of 1 for some reason, but this will be a multi-chapter fic.
“Waverly. Hey-” Nicole couldn’t help the goofy smile that plastered itself over her lips as she opened the door to greet the other girl. It only marginally wavered as Wynonna followed her inside the apartment.
“Hey, Haught-Stuff. Housewarming present for ya.” The oldest Earp shoved a bottle of cheap scotch into her hands.
“Uh, thanks. This Nedley’s?” Nicole scrutinized the label, recognizing the brand as the one her boss favored.
“If he doesn’t want me to take it he should find a better hiding place for it.” Wynonna shrugged unapologetically. “You going to just stand there Haught? Pour me a glass already.”
Waverly shot the young deputy a tense smile as she closed the door behind her. Nicole went to fetch three glasses from the kitchen. Despite Wynonna’s unexpected appearance, she was grateful for the free booze. She poured herself two fingers and downed it, quickly refilling it before either of the Earps could see. Nicole needed all of the liquid courage she could get.
As if reading Nicole’s thoughts, Wynonna piped up from over on the couch. “Sorry to come over all unexpected like this, but I figured it was time for another bonding session. Seeing as you're dating my sister and all.”
“You… You told her?” Nicole’s eyes widened as she turned to confront Waverly. The other woman was doing a good job of making herself shrink into the background.
“It slipped out!” The youngest Earp protested. “She knows we’re only faking being together so you can live here.”
“Yeah. About that.” Nicole rubbed awkwardly at the back of her neck, ducking her gaze to the floor. “I saw Mrs Thompson today, and she was asking why she hasn’t seen you around.”
“Ooo, busted!” Wynonna cracked up. “You do know the last people who pulled this trick were run out of town, right?”
“Wynonna! That’s a total exaggeration!” Waverly chastised her older sister.
“What would you know? You were like eleven! Okay, so this dude who worked at the auto shop and one of the high school teachers pretended to be a couple to rent one of Mrs T’s apartments and she found out and kicked them out. Then nobody else in town would rent to them!”
Nicole’s mouth was hanging open by the end of Wynonna’s story. She looked to Waverly for some kind of reassurance that the older woman was spinning things out of proportion. Waverly gave her another apologetic smile. “Okay, so she’s mostly right.”
“I’m dead.” Nicole huffed, flopping down onto the couch beside Wynonna and handing over her glass.
“Come on, it’s not that bad!” Waverly tried to reassure her newest friend. Taking a seat on the coffee table in front of her, she placed her hands on Nicole’s knees. “We can totally pull this off!”
“Mrs Thompson noticed you haven’t moved in yet. So I told her you were waiting until this weekend.”
“We’re screwed.” Waverly sighed, deflating like a balloon. “The couch at our place really isn’t that bad-”
“Hey!” Wynonna sat bolt upright, sloshing some of her drink over the side of her glass. “Where’s that old Earp ‘can-do-attitude’, huh?”
Waverly shot her older sister a death glare. “Short of me actually moving in here, what do you suggest?”
“Move in.” Wynonna shrugged like it was the most obvious thing in the world. It was hard to tell who was more shocked by her suggestion, Nicole or Waverly.
The two of them stared at Wynonna like she’d just grown a second head. Waverly was the first to recover. “I’d ask if you’re drunk, but that’s a given.” Anyone else might have tried to defend themselves, but Wynonna just gave another, halfhearted, shrug.
“What else are you going to do? Mrs T might look like a sweet old lady, but she’s a fire breathing dragon! Not to mention, related to half of Purgatory. Nicole won’t have a hope in hell’s chance of renting anywhere in town if this thing goes south.”
Nicole looked to Waverly with a pleading expression, as though looking for reassurance that Wynonna was only exaggerating. “I told you not to call her!” Waverly huffed. Crossing her arms over her chest she looked like a sulking teenager.
“Fuck…” Nicole cursed, shaking her head in defeat. “What am I going to do?”
“Wynonna, can I speak to you for a second?” Waverly let out a sigh. Nicole was her friend, and she wasn’t about to see her become homeless, but things weren’t that simple. Waverly had moved back up to the Homestead for the security it offered from the Ghost River Triangle’s more unsavory characters.
“Sure. Haught, give us a minute.” Wynonna tossed over her shoulder at the bemused deputy.
“Nonna!” Waverly snapped at her older sister, glaring daggers at her for her rudeness.
“It’s okay.” Nicole tried to calm the tiny ball of rage with a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll be in my room.” She left the two sisters to it, closing her bedroom door behind her with a soft click.
“I can’t move in here!”
“Why not? It’s nice.” Wynonna placed her feet back up on the coffee table. She seemed as relaxed as Waverly was panicked.
“Why not? Oh, I don’t know… how about 77 dead dudes? I can’t put Nicole at risk. Not when she doesn’t know what she’s up against.”
“Look, Waves, things on the rev front have been pretty quiet since we took out The Seven. Bobo and all the other undead assholes are running scared… or at least they would be if, you know, they could actually leave the triangle. Besides, Haught needs you; and it can’t hurt to have a cop around who owes you one!” Wynonna waggled her eyebrows suggestively as if Waverly had ever had need of a favor from law enforcement.
“Seriously, though. I know you miss living in town.” Wynonna carried on. “This place is the Ritz compared to the Homestead. Stay a month or two, convince the old lady you and Hot-stuff are dating, then stage a break-up. Simple as that.”
“Simple. Right.” Waverly rolled her eyes at her. Wynonna did have a point, though. She did miss living in town. Since joining Black-badge she spent most of her time between Shorty’s, the station and the Homestead. She was starting to become as much a pariah as her older sister. Living in town again would make it easier to get to and from work. “Fine… I’ll do it. But I still think we should warn Nicole about the baggage I come with.”
“Please.” Wynonna pursed her lips, letting out a dismissive puff off air. “I think Haught can handle the likes of Champ!”
“I was talking about the Revenants!” Waverly scowled. Wynonna’s eyes widened as she sat bolt upright, finally taking the situation seriously.
“Whoa, whoa! Do I need to give you Dolls’ motivational speech about nuking the town? We can’t tell Haught about the Revenants, the curse, any of it! Do I make myself clear? None of it!”
“But, Nicole is-”
“Better off not knowing.” Wynonna finished for her. “Nicole doesn’t need to know that the things that go bump in the night are real. The first sign of any trouble and we get you back to the Homestead… Nicole too if we have to.”
“You do know you’re only moving in for a month, right?” Nicole gave her new ‘room-mate’ a wry smile as she hefted a third suitcase out of the back of Gus’s pickup. Wynonna had borrowed it again, though this time she had actually asked first.
“Please, this is just what she had at the Homestead.” Wynonna joked. “The rest of it is back at Shorty’s.”
Waverly ignored their teasing. She was focused on trying to dislodge a box overfilled with old books. The leather spines were mostly cracked, and few of the titles were even legible. Waverly wasn’t about to miss out on a month’s worth of research into the Revenants and the curse just because she wasn’t at the Homestead. Nicole didn’t seem like the type who would pry into Waverly’s extra-curricular reading. Even if she did, there was little chance Nicole could read ancient Sumerian or Latin.
“Stupid thing… Why. Won’t. You. Budge- Ahh!” Waverly let out a shrill scream as the stubborn box suddenly came loose, sending her flying back off of the tailgate.
“Whoa there!” Nicole stepped in to help, catching Waverly around the waist and keeping her upright. “You okay?” She smiled down at the smaller girl. Waverly just stared blankly up at her, still catching her breath from the fall. Nicole’s hands on her hip and the small of her back seemed to be making it all the more hard for her to get her breathing back down to normal. They were standing close enough that it would only take Waverly standing up on her tiptoes to bring their mouths together.
“Uh, yeah. Fine.” Waverly abruptly pulled back, wondering just where that thought had come from. She dusted off her jeans, despite the fact that she hadn’t actually fallen over. “Thanks, Officer.”
“All part of the service, Ma’am.” Nicole tipped her hat towards her. It was late Saturday afternoon and the deputy had not long gotten off work.
“Okay, you guys suck at this.” Wynonna rolled her eyes at the pair of them. “You’re supposed to be a couple of love-struck kids who are moving in together! You’re going to have to try harder if you want to fool Mrs T. Speak of the devil and she shall appear…” Wynonna nodded behind them. Mrs Thompson was making her way down the stairs at the front of the building, leaning heavily on her cane.
“Damn it…” Waverly muttered under her breath. Despite still feeling shaky from her almost fall, she quickly stepped back in beside Nicole, bringing her arm around the other woman’s waist and leaning into her. The shoulder patches on Nicole’s work shirt rubbed against the side of her cheek. Nicole’s own arms came up automatically, wrapping around Waverly’s smaller frame with ease. “Hi, Mrs Thompson!”
“Hello, Waverly. Nicole… Wynonna.” The older woman looked at Wynonna like she was something particularly nasty that had found its way to the bottom of her shoe. “You moving on in today, Waverly?”
“Sure am.” Waverly answered with forced cheer. Nicole’s hands resting on the small of her back were far more distracting than they should have been. Not for the first time, the youngest Earp was second guessing her decision to help Nicole out.
There had been some kind of spark between them from that very first day in the bar, but Waverly had been steadfast in her refusal to acknowledge just what that meant. Waverly clicked with a lot of people. Officer Haught was no different. It wasn’t like Waverly was gay or anything.
“I better get this stuff upstairs. See you up there, Babe.” Nicole pressed a quick kiss to the side of Waverly’s cheek. Wynonna was right. They were going to have to work harder if they wanted to sell this. She picked up two of the suitcases and headed on inside.
“Mhmm.” Waverly nodded, not quite trusting herself to speak.
“Yeah, see you up there, Babygirl.” Wynonna grinned as she picked up the last suitcases and followed after Nicole, leaving Waverly to the mercy of Mrs Thompson.
It was going to be one hell of a long month.
“Alrighty, that’s all of Waverly’s crap moved in. Now, who’s ready to party?” Wynonna seemed to pull a bottle of vodka out of nowhere as she flopped onto Nicole’s couch, startling her ginger tabby cat. The haughty feline let out a disgruntled hiss before taking off for the sanctuary of Nicole’s bedroom. Nicole gave her a sympathetic look, wishing she could follow after her.
“I’ll skip the hard stuff, thanks. I’m on duty early tomorrow.” Nicole answered. She didn’t want to be rude, though, so she walked over to the kitchenette and fetched a cold beer from the fridge.
“Yeah, you’re mixing that with something.” Waverly rolled her eyes at her sister, snatching the bottle out of her hands.
“Spoilsport.” Wynonna huffed. Waverly ignored her. She thanked Nicole for getting out two glasses from a cupboard above the sink, then set about mixing the vodka with some Coke that the other woman had standing in the fridge. She made Wynonna’s stronger, adding three times the amount of vodka that went in to her own. Never the less, the older Earp still twisted her face as she took her first gulp. “Little on the weak side there, Waves. You’re not at the bar now you know.”
“And you still have to drive home, so you’re not getting wasted.” Waverly shot back. She sipped at her own drink and sat on the edge of the couch. It was little more than a love seat, with just enough space to sit two. Nicole perched on the armrest since Wynonna had taken up residence in the recliner - the only other chair in the room.
Wynonna scoffed at her. “Seriously? You’re supposed to be pretending to be a couple. You’re gonna have to work harder than that to convince the good townsfolk of Purgatory.”
“Give it a break, Nonna.” Waverly pulled a face, while Nicole was awfully silent. “We only need to put on an act around other people!”
“Yeah, but if you don’t get some practice in you’ll be less Romeo & Juliet and more Marge and Homer.”
“That makes zero sense.” Waverly frowned.
“Didn’t Romeo and Juliet die?” protested Nicole.
“You’re both missing the point! You’re sitting there like two sixth graders at their first school dance!” Wynonna slapped her thigh dramatically as she stood up, vodka sloshing against the side of her glass. “Nobody is ever going to believe you’re dating if you keep up like that! You got to get a little chemistry going! Or, you know, at least sit within five feet of each other.”
Nicole muttered under her breath as she slipped off the arm of the love seat and sat down beside Waverly. The size of the couch meant their thighs were pressed closely together. Waverly shifted uncomfortably. It couldn’t be any clearer that the pair were faking at being a couple. Wynonna shook her head with a bemused smile, before bringing her glass up to her lips and coming out with, “Well, it’s a start.”
“Wynonna made it back okay.” Waverly informed Nicole as she tucked her phone back into the pocket of her bed-shorts. Any other time, Nicole might have wondered why such tiny shorts even had pockets in them but, after four beers and a shot of vodka - Wynonna had insisted on it - all she could seem to focus on was Waverly’s bare legs. She’d gone into the bathroom to change for bed and check up on Wynonna, and she’d come out wearing the tiniest shorts Nicole had ever seen. “Nicole?”
“Huh?” The Deputy forced her gaze upwards. Her usually sharp eyes were dull and glazed over from the alcohol. “Oh. Good. Great… Her driving herself into a tree on my watch wouldn’t look too good.”
“Nope. Probably not.” Waverly giggled, and Nicole found herself wearing a dumb grin. She really liked the sound of the youngest Earp laughing.
There was a lot about Waverly Earp that Nicole liked. The younger woman had caught her attention before they’d even shared a word. Waverly was pretty and smart, funny and adorable. She was the perfect package; except for the part where she was straight. Nicole mentally berated herself. Waverly was her friend. If she didn’t want to ruin that then she was going to have to do a far better job of hiding her feelings for the other woman. “It’s late, and I’ve got an early start.”
“Right. Of course.” Waverly agreed. She stood wrangling her hands, seeming to be at a loss with herself. “Um, we never actually discussed the sleeping situation. One bedroom. One bed…” Waverly looked awkwardly over her shoulder at Nicole’s closed over door.
“Uh… oh. Yeah. You should take it. After all, you’re doing me the favor.”
“You can’t sleep on your couch for a month!” Waverly protested. “Let’s just take turns switching?”
“Okay.” Nicole agreed. She knew better than to try and argue with an Earp. “But you take it tonight. I’m up early in the morning.”
“Sure thing. I’m closing at Shorty’s tomorrow, so I’ll be in late. We’ll probably barely ever be in at the same time.” Waverly laughed, trying to make light of the situation. She wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed about their conflicting schedules.
“Oh. Okay then. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” Waverly gave her that same smile she’d given her from her front porch the morning after her disastrous party at the Homestead. That had been the same morning that Nicole had been knocked clean out, and Wynonna was taken by the crazy doctor from the morgue. Nicole was still struggling to make sense of all of that. It was hard to put the pieces together when she knew she was missing half of them.
“Damn it…” It was only as Nicole was getting ready to leave for work the next morning that she remembered her gun was in her safe; the safe in her bedroom closet. At barely five am she crept across the apartment and eased open the door to her room. It was still dark outside, but Nicole couldn’t turn on the light for fear of waking her guest.
Her boots padded softly across the plush carpet, barely making a sound as she crossed over to the closet. Her gun safe was on the top shelf. After quickly typing in the code she popped it open and retrieved the firearm inside. Nicole pocketed it in her holster, intending to turn around and walk right back out. She paused as she caught sight of Waverly.
The younger girl was obviously a wriggler. The bed covers were twisted around her, leaving her upper half exposed and one leg poking completely out of them. The bed was a double, but Waverly was lying stretched out across it, taking up most of the bed.
Nicole swallowed the lump that had formed in the back of her throat. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d dreamed about having Waverly in her bed; Nicole had just always imagined it under different circumstances. Waverly stirred, murmuring lightly in her sleep. Not wanting to be caught lurking around in the dark, Nicole made a hasty retreat.
The station was close enough for her to walk to. The pre-dawn morning air was sharp against her face and crisp in her lungs. The short walk had the young deputy wide awake by the time she stepped into the station. Nodding at the ancient deputy manning the desk - Johnson was two years away from retirement and as deaf as a post - Nicole walked into the back and started a fresh pot of coffee going.
“Haught.” She jumped as a gruff voice sounded behind her. Nicole spun on the spot to find the Sheriff filling the doorway of the break room. It was rare to see him in the building at such an ungodly hour. Nedley rarely made an appearance before nine.
“Chief. Get you a cup?” Nicole greeted him with the coffee pot in her hand.
“Sure.” He nodded stoutly and settled himself against the counter, his beefy arms crossed over his broad chest.
“You’ve been here a few months now. How you settling in?” The unusual interest from her boss threw Nicole for a second. She didn’t answer right away, wondering just where the conversation was headed.
“Good. That’s good.” Nedley nursed his coffee cup like it was a glass of expensive bourbon that had to be savored. “I hear you got a new place.”
Nicole suddenly knew where this was going. Purgatory was a small town after all. “I, uh… I didn’t realize you were seeing anybody. There’s been some talk around town.”
“That a fact?” Nicole couldn’t keep the harsh edge out of her tone as she clenched her jaw, waiting for the inevitable.
“Yeah, it is.” Nedley held her gaze. He hadn’t made Sheriff by shying away from difficult situations. Placing his cup back down on the counter, he stared Nicole down. “Now let’s get one thing straight. I don’t care about your personal life. Who you’re shacked up with is none of my business-”
“Sheriff-” Nicole started, but Nedley wasn’t about to let her interrupt.
“Waverly Earp is a nice girl, not like that damn sister of hers.” Nedley rubbed at the stubble on his chin, suddenly unable to look his deputy in the eye. “You just be careful is all I’m saying. Waverly’s well liked in this town. You fuck up and your feet won’t touch the ground on the way out. Got that, Haught?”
“Uh…” Nicole stared at him in disbelief. She had been expecting a completely different lecture from the one Nedley had given her. It took a second for her to take his warning on board. “Yes, Sir.”
“Good.” Nedley looked more at ease as he clapped her on the shoulder on his way out. “Oh, and… nice work, Deputy.”
“…Thank you? Sir.”
Waverly Earp could count on one hand the number of times she’d woken up in somebody else’s bed; including sleepovers with girlfriends. It took her a minute to get her bearings when she woke up in Nicole’s bed, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling and trying to figure out where she was.
A loud hissing from the door caught her attention. Nicole’s cat was sitting there, staring at her with big black eyes that seemed to be accusing her of something. Waverly usually had the same way with animals as she did with people, but not with this cat. It kept hissing at her and staring her down. To top things off, she couldn’t remember it’s damn name. “Nice kitty-cat. Good kitty…”
Waverly climbed out of bed and inched towards the door. The ginger tabby arched its back as it hissed at her, it’s tail standing up straight. “Good kitty… nice kitty…” The hissing grew louder until the cat started mewling. Waverly made a split-second decision and rushed past it, closing Nicole’s door over behind her. “Stupid cat.”
It was a little after noon when Waverly finally left the apartment, having finally let the cat out before she left. An hour locked up in Nicole’s bedroom hadn’t done it’s temperament any favors. Waverly had just narrowly avoided having her eyes scratched out.
Gus had opened the bar that morning, so it was all set up for Waverly coming in. The first of the lunchtime patrons had already started trickling in. Waverly had already explained the situation with her and Nicole to Gus, so she was spared the third degree from her aunt as she joined her behind the bar. The customers were another matter.
Waverly had lived in a small town long enough to know that the Purgatory rumor mill worked so fast that it put Fedex to shame. Quiet murmuring and curious stares followed her the whole afternoon. The whispering only grew louder as Nicole walked in with the Sheriff and a couple of other deputies for happy hour. She was still in uniform, but she’d undone the top few buttons of her shirt and left her hat in her patrol car.
Waverly decided to put an end to the murmuring once and for all; though there was nothing she could do that would stop the gossip. Leaning against the bar as Nicole approached, she offered here a wide smile. “Hey, Baby.” Nicole’s expression faltered, she’d momentarily forgotten the game they were playing.
“Hey-” Nicole had barely gotten a word out before Waverly grabbed hold of her shirt and tugged her forward. Nicole had to place her hands down on the bar to steady herself as Waverly kissed her. The kiss was brief and chaste, but it still set Nicole’s pulse racing. There were wolf whistles from somewhere across the bar. Waverly ignored them as she pulled back from the kiss, grinning at Nicole.
“What can I get ya?”
“Uh… I…” Nicole stammered, completely forgetting where she was. The only thing she seemed to be able to focus on was Waverly’s lips. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Waverly repeated, laughing softly at Nicole’s dazed expression. Leaning forward, Nicole was sure the younger woman was going to kiss her again. Instead of going for her lips, Waverly tilted her head to the side, whispering in her ear. “Sorry. I hope that was okay. Just trying to sell it.”
“No... I mean, no it wasn’t not okay. Yes. Yes. It was fine… Good thinking.”
“You sure?” Waverly frowned, her hand finding Nicole’s arm. “You look a little-”
“I’m fine.” Nicole insisted, forcing a smile with a false sense of cheeriness as she pulled her arm back from Waverly’s reach. Clearing her throat, she said a little louder, “The Sheriff wants his usual, and four beers for me and the boys. I’ll take a whiskey chaser too.”
“Coming right up; but, just so you know, Officer, I’m cutting you off if you get too drunk. I am not carrying your ass home later.” Waverly teased, a playful lilt to her tone as she set about seeing to Nicole’s order. Nicole took her shot before her beer.
Feeling emboldened by the sharp sting of the strong liquor as it burned its way down her throat, Nicole shot her ‘girlfriend’ a wink. “Maybe I’ll be the one carrying you.”
“You hate me don’t you? You actually hate me. I have an arch-nemesis… and it’s a cat.” Waverly huffed, blowing a stray strand of hair out of her face. Nicole’s cat gave her a lazy stare in return, from where it was stretched out across most of the sofa. “Just move already! Stupid cat!” Lay on its back, the tabby let out a pitiful attempt at a ‘meow’. “That was pathetic.” Waverly rolled her eyes.
“What was?” She jumped, momentarily convinced that the cat had just spoken. Quickly coming to her senses, Waverly realized it was Nicole that had asked the question. Flustered, and not wanting to be caught mid-argument with Nicole’s pet, she hastily pointed over at the TV.
“That commercial for… shampoo. Ten dollars a bottle? Pathetic!”
“Oh… Okay.” The other woman gave her a questioning look, but decided to let it drop. After months of living in Purgatory, and a week of living with Waverly Earp, Nicole was more than used to the unusual. Plopping down on to the couch, Nicole scooped the cat up in to her arms, nuzzling in to it’s neck with her nose. The cantankerous feline instantly began purring.
“Aren’t you going to be late for work?” Waverly asked. She took a seat on the lounger instead, giving Nicole and the cat the full sofa to themselves.
“Day off. How about you? Shouldn’t you be opening Shorty’s right about now?”
It was the first time in the week of them living together that they were both off work at the same time. They’d barely seen each other all week, with Nicole heading off to work first thing and Waverly coming home in the middle of the night.
“Any plans? I was thinking of going grocery shopping if you need anything picked up?” Nicole offered, setting her cat aside. It jumped down to the floor with a disgruntled hiss, and scampered off down the hall; probably to go pee in one of Waverly’s shoes. Again.
“Actually, I might tag along. If that’s okay with you?” Waverly didn’t want to overstep the mark and just invite herself along, but Nicole actually seemed to brighten at the suggestion.
“Sure. That’d be great. You ready to go now, or?”
“Yeah! All set!
They took Nicole’s truck over to the only supermarket in town. Waverly had worked there for a few months back in high school, when she’d needed money to buy Christmas presents for her aunt and uncle, and had been too young to work at Shorty’s.
It was a Saturday morning, and the parking lot of the Saver-Mart was crammed full of minivans and gas guzzling SUVs. Nicole managed to find them a spot not too far from the front entrance. She grabbed a cart and followed Waverly’s lead. Other than the bar, the supermarket was the first place the two women had been out together in public since word had spread that they were living together.
Waverly couldn’t help but notice that a whole load of people were staring at them. She was an Earp - and that came with whispers and sidelong looks all of its own - so she was used to people staring and talking about her. She just wasn’t used to people being so obvious about it.
“Wave? You okay?” Nicole didn’t have to be a cop to work out that something was up with the younger woman. Waverly hadn’t said a word in over five minutes from them entering the store, and that in itself was enough to set off warning bells.
“It feels like everybody’s staring at us.” Waverly rubbed anxiously at the back of her neck, dropping her gaze to the floor when she inadvertently made eye contact with an old woman.
“Of course they’re not.” Nicole laughed off her paranoia and gave Waverly one of those dazzling smiles of hers. “And if they are, they’re only wondering how I got so lucky.”
It was Waverly’s turn to laugh. It was easy not to care about people staring and whispering when she was around Nicole. The other woman had this quiet confidence about her. She was like an ancient oak tree, standing proud and tall no matter how hard the storm around her raged.
“Clearly it was your charm.” Borrowing some of her confidence, Waverly knocked her hips lightly against Nicole’s and took the shopping cart from her. “So, what do you need? Where’s your list?”
“List?” Nicole looked blankly back at her.
“You didn’t make a list?” Waverly frowned. “How do you remember everything?”
“Milk. Bacon. Cat food. Beer.” Nicole answered, holding a finger up for each item. Waverly started blankly at her, like the other woman had just made some unforgivable social faux pass.
“That explains why you have nothing but beer in your fridge. As much as that sure makes me feel right at home, we need actual food we can cook with.”
“You can cook with bacon.” Argued Nicole, giving a halfhearted shrug of her shoulders. “Cat food too, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“Gross!” Waverly rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help the little smile that found its way to her lips. “Okay, first things first, we need to head to the produce aisle.”
Shopping with Waverly sure was an experience for Nicole. The Deputy usually only bought a few items at a time, choosing instead to rely on fast food and whatever she could get out of the vending machines at the station. Waverly, however, was like Martha Stewart on Crack.
She fondled the fruit to find the ripest items. She compared sugar content and calories in packs of cookies and chips. It should have driven Nicole nuts, but she found it endearing. They were finally heading for the checkout when Nicole realised she’d forgotten the cat food. Her hand briefly found the small of Waverly’s back. “You go on ahead. I’ll meet you at the register.”
“…Sure.” Waverly really hoped she wasn’t blushing. Her cheeks felt like they were suddenly on fire. “Catch you later.” Catch you later? Waverly mentally kicked herself as she walked up to the cash register. What was she, twelve? Nicole always seemed to be so cool and confident all the time, and there was Waverly - being a bona-fide dork.
“Waverly Earp!?” A cashier a few checkouts up from the one Waverly was queuing at called her over. She was a bottle blond who - though generally pretty - wore far too much make-up. The scent of her perfume was overpowering as Waverly approached her register. “I thought that was you!” The woman greeted her with an overly enthusiastic smile. Her name was Diane, and she’d been in Wynonna’s graduating class back in high school.
Like most of Purgatory, Diane was a regular at Shorty’s bar. She was there for happy hour most Wednesday and Thursday nights. She and Waverly were acquaintances at best. They’d barely shared more than a few words over the
years, yet Diane greeted her like an old friend. “Yip, it’s me alright.” Waverly answered in the same upbeat tone she used whenever she was tending the bar. Diane started ringing Waverly’s purchases through.
“Looks like you’ve got enough here to feed a whole army!” The comment was innocuous enough, but it set Waverly’s teeth on edge. She could see Diane glancing around every now and then, as if looking for someone. Waverly could guess where this conversation was going. “Filling up the new fridge? I hear you’ve moved in with that new deputy.” She was smiling, but it was the kind of fake smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “…The female one.”
“Nicole. Yes.” Waverly answered sharply. “We’re dating. We moved in together. Do you have a problem with that, Diane?” There was more of an edge to her voice than she’d intended, but Waverly refused to apologize for it. The whispers and accusing looks had followed her and Nicole all around the grocery store and she was getting damn sick of it.
“Of course not!” Diane held a hand to her chest like Waverly’s comment had physically wounded her. Then, she lowered that same hand and placed it over Waverly’s. “I just didn’t realize you were that way inclined… It’s such a shame you’re off the market.” Diane batted her long eyelashes at the younger woman, catching her completely off guard.
“Um…” Waverly had no idea what to say to that. The cashier was coming on to her. The female cashier was making a pass at her. “Uh, I… Nic! Hey, babe!” Waverly grabbed Nicole’s arm the second she was within reach, pulling her in close to her side. Nicole was surprised, but hid it well; her own arm slipping around Waverly’s waist as though it was second nature to do so.
Diane looked down and away before forcing another fake smile on to her face and scanning through the cat food Nicole had just placed down on the conveyor belt. Ringing up the total with an overly aggressive jab of a button, she said, “That will be $78.95.”
She looked directly at Waverly - who started to dig out her purse - but Nicole beat her to it when she pulled her wallet out of the back pocket of her jeans and handed over her card.
“No! Nic, I’ll get this-”
“Don’t be silly. I’ve got this.” Nicole waved off her attempts to pay and swiped her card through the reader.
Waverly was torn between insisting Nicole let her pay at least half, and in keeping up the act around Diane.She opted for the latter, slipping an arm around Nicole’s waist and leaning close. “Fine, but I’m paying you back later.” The blush that graced the other woman’s cheeks made her flame colored hair pale in comparison. She fumbled while trying to put her card back in her pocket.
“The girl on the counter just hit on me!” Waverly announced the second they were out in the parking lot. “She used to go to school with Wynonna! I’ve known her forever and I had no idea she was gay! That’s so weird!”
“I know, it’s amazing we can look just like regular people.” Nicole was teasing, but the remark still cut deep.
“What? I wasn’t… I mean, I didn’t mean-” Waverly started, flustered. “I-”
“Relax, Waves. I was kidding.” Nicole laughed at the other woman’s horrified expression. She started loading the groceries in to the back of her truck, leaving Waverly to stew. Waverly was unusually quiet on the drive home. She was chewing at her bottom lip as she stared out at the road. Nicole nudged her with her elbow, keeping both hands on the wheel. “You okay?”
“Diane hitting on me just came out of left field. That’s all.” Waverly shrugged, still focusing on the passing scenery outside the car.
“Really?” Nicole couldn’t hide the shock in her reply. “You must get hit on all the time! You’re gorgeous and funny, and smart...” The comment was made almost off-hand, but it sent a flurry of butterflies soaring through the younger girl’s stomach.
“Not by women.” Waverly shrugged, feeling a creeping blush spreading over her cheeks. She was used to guys flirting with her, but attention from the fairer sex was a fairly new thing.
“Pfft.” Nicole shook her head with an amused smile. “You probably just never noticed it before.”
“Well look at that, I’m getting something out of this after all!” Waverly joked.
Nicole’s amusement wavered as her grip on the wheel tightened. “About that. Thanks again for doing this. I know it can’t be easy for you… pretending to be something you’re not. God knows I did it for far too long.”
“When did you know? That you were, you know… in to girls? If you don’t mind me asking?” If Waverly was being honest, that was only one of a million questions she had for the deputy. She hoped Nicole wouldn’t take offense to her asking.
To Waverly’s surprise, she actually laughed. “I was fifteen. My best friend at the time, we’d been thick as thieves since pre-school, well, she started seeing the point guard of the basketball team… and God, was I jealous! Took me about six months to figure out why.”
“Did you ever tell her?”
“Nah.” Nicole shook her head softly. “Sometimes… sometimes it’s just better not to say anything.” She cleared her throat as she brought the pickup to a stop in their parking space outside the apartment building. If Nicole had hoped the questions would end there, then she was sorely disappointed. Waverly bombarded her with question after question as they carried the groceries upstairs.
When did she first kiss a girl? What was her first girlfriend like? What was her last girlfriend like? Why did it end? Waverly was unrelenting, but she was also easy to talk to. Nicole was an open book. She answered everything that Waverly put to her over a couple of beers. Nicole started asking questions of her own, like just why the hell Waverly had ever dated someone like Champ? She scoffed at Waverly’s response of ‘limited dating options’.
The afternoon had bled in to early evening and one beer had turned in to three, and then four. Both women were tucked up under an old blanket on the sofa. Nicole had one arm slung over the back of the chair, while Waverly had her legs draped over the other woman’s lap. “Maybe you should expand your horizons? Open up you’re options?” She suggested, watching Waverly closely for her reaction.
“Couldn’t do much worse than Champ.” Waverly giggled in agreement. Her cheeks had a rosy glow to them from laughing at some of Nicole’s horror stories when it came to the dating scene.
“No you could not.” Nicole agreed, clinking her bottle against the other girls’.
“I’d say you’re a step or two up, Officer Haught.”
“A step?” Nicole snorted. “More like a leap and a jump!”
“So modest!” Waverly rolled her eyes at her; though she didn’t disagree. Nicole held her hands up in mock surrender.
“Hey, it isn’t my fault you set the bar so low!”
“Jerk!” Waverly snatched up one of the cushions and tossed it at her. Nicole didn’t even try to defend herself. It hit the back of her head as she doubled over with laughter. “He scratched an itch.” Waverly shrugged, trying to retain some of her dignity.
“Ew.” Nicole pulled a face. Her accent had grown steadily thicker the more she drank. “I’d be surprised if that dumb fuck could find your itch, never mind see to it.”
“And you could?” The question tumbled out of Waverly’s mouth before her brain could stop it. It was too late to take it back, so - rather than let her horror show - she sat up a little straighter, holding Nicole’s gaze; almost in a challenge.
Nicole wasn’t one to back down from a challenge. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” She threw back, enjoying the way Waverly squirmed a little in her seat. Nicole would have preferred the other woman squirming underneath her, but she’d take what she could get when it came to Waverly Earp.
The air between them was thick with tension.
They were sitting so close that it wouldn’t have taken very much at all for Nicole just to lean forward slightly and kiss her. Nicole wasn’t stupid, and Waverly’s earlier questions hadn’t been completely innocent. The younger woman was at least curious. There was no denying that.
Nicole was a hell of a lot more than curious. She’d wanted Waverly since that first day in Shorty’s. The ball was in Waverly’s court, though. Whatever happened - if anything - would be up to her. Nicole was too old, and too world weary, to go chasing after straight girls; but then she was fairly certain that Waverly Earp did not fall in to that category.
“Maybe I would.”
“Maybe I would.” Those teasing words were ringing in Nicole’s ears. Her mouth was dry. Her stomach was in knots. Waverly was sitting close enough for Nicole to be able to lean just slightly forward and kiss her. “Or maybe I’ll just ask Diane.” Waverly laughed, and just like that the spell was broken.
“I’ll go start dinner.” She was still laughing as she headed into the kitchen, somewhat unsteady on her feet. “What do you feel like having?”
“You.” Nicole grumbled softly. In a louder voice, she answered, “Order takeout. I don’t think you’re sober enough to be operating an oven.”
“Is cooking under the influence a criminal offense, Officer?” Waverly shot back, her voice dropping just that little bit more flirtatiously on the last word. It had Nicole’s stomach tied up in knots.
“I’m afraid it is, Ma’am.” Nicole deliberately allowed some of the drawl she’d worked so hard to get rid of in college slip through into her accent.
Getting up off the sofa, her hands assumed the position on her hips - where her utility belt would usually sit - and she sauntered over to the younger woman. “I’m gonna need to see some ID.”
“Why, Officer, I seem to have left my ID in my other purse.” Waverly fanned her hand out in front of her, feigning distress. Nicole struggled to keep her expression straight. Waverly Earp was anything but a damsel.
“I don’t suppose you’d let me off with a warning?” She fluttered her eyelashes at Nicole, barely suppressing a giggle of her own. Nicole’s lips suddenly felt dry. She had played this game before, knew all too well where it was headed.
Waverly’s hooded eyes were soft and glazed, but her pupils were blown wide. She was leaning against the kitchen counter, worrying at her lip. Waverly was drunk.
“Uh… just this time.” Nicole pulled herself together before she could do anything stupid. She let her hands drop from her hips. “Tell you what, I’ll go pick something up... I could use the air. Pizza okay?”
“Pizza sounds great.” Waverly might have been tipsy, but - by an Earp’s standard - she was far from drunk. Nicole’s sudden change in demeanor didn’t go unnoticed. “I’ll come with you. I could use some air myself.”
“Oh… Okay. Sure.” Nicole nodded, though she didn’t look all that okay with it. She’d been hoping to get some time alone to clear her head.
It took a couple of minutes for them to grab their coats and for Waverly to find her purse; she’d insisted on paying for dinner since Nicole had paid for the groceries. “Keys!” Nicole called out from the hall, just as Waverly was about to walk out and pull the front door shut. She quickly darted back inside and grabbed a set of keys from the hook on the wall.
“Whoops! I’d forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on.” Waverly laughed. She wore an adorable lopsided smile. Nicole had the overwhelming urge to push her back against the door and kiss her senseless.
Trying her best to ignore her base urges, Nicole managed a small chuckle in response. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her hooded sweater, seeming to shrink in on herself.
Waverly frowned at that. Reaching out, she linked her arm through the other woman’s. “In case Mrs T’s roaming the halls.” She answered Nicole’s questioning look.
“Right.” Nicole nodded. She pulled her hand out of her pocket and slipped it into Waverly’s. It was an all too comfortable fit.
They’d barely made it out of the building when there was a catcall from across the street. “Hey, lovebirds!” Wynonna grinned at them as she trotted over. Peacemaker jostled in its holster at her side. “Where you headed? I was just coming to get you both. It’s happy hour at Shorty’s!”
“We were just going for some food.” Nicole answered. She unconsciously tried to pull her hand back, but Waverly held on tightly.
“’Nonna, I’m not going to Shorty’s on my day off!” Waverly rolled her eyes. “We’re going for pizza!”
“Shorty’s does pizza. Great pizza. Free pizza.” The older Earp sister left no room for argument as she walked up to Nicole and linked into her free arm.
“She has a point.” Said Nicole. She figured a crowded bar with Wynonna for a chaperon was less risky than a night in with Waverly, a pizza, and the rest of the beer in their fridge.
“Traitor.” Waverly grumbled.
Happy hour at Shorty’s was always a busy affair. Most of the tables were full, but Wynonna used her charms to physically remove a slack-jawed kid and his date from a table near the back.
Gus brought three draft beers over without having to be asked. “It’s as busy as the waiting room in hell in here. So if you want food, make it something simple.” She said gruffly, slamming Wynonna’s beer down harder than needed and sending it sloshing over the sides.
“I’ll help.” Waverly went to stand, but Gus pushed her firmly back down in her seat.
“You’ll do no such thing. It’s your night off, Kiddo. Let someone else run around after you for once.” With a pointed look in Nicole’s direction, Gus took off back behind the bar.
Waverly spent most of happy hour looking guiltily over at the packed bar. She picked at the food on her plate when it eventually came, and barely touched her drink. It wasn’t until the dinnertime crowd eased off that she finally started to relax. Though, the shots that Wynonna brought back to the table probably had a lot to do with that.
“Oh no…” Waverly’s good mood didn’t last very long as the door opened and Champ walked in. She’d somehow managed to avoid her ex since the news had gotten out that she and Nicole were dating.
Champ made a beeline for their table. “Oh look, it’s my round.” Wynonna growled out, standing up quickly to intersect him. Nicole glanced up warily. She hadn’t known Wynonna long, but she knew her well enough to know the oldest Earp never volunteered to buy the drinks.
Wynonna walked right up to Champ, aggressively knocking her shoulder into his and stopping him in his tracks. “Walk away, Cowboy.” Her hand fell to rest lightly on top of Peacemaker, a non-too-subtle warning.
Champ wasn’t paying any attention to Wynonna or the gun. His gaze was burning into the back of Nicole’s head. “Maybe we should go?” Waverly suggested, worrying at her bottom lip.
“We can if you want to, but you don’t have to.” Said Nicole. She moved her hand and covered one of the younger woman’s, squeezing it lightly. She didn’t want Waverly feeling like she had to slink away because of some ass-hat like Champ Hardy.
Waverly wasn’t used to being asked what she wanted. The whole time she and Champ had been dating it had always been about what he wanted. Where he wanted to go. What he wanted for dinner. How he wanted to have… ‘We’re not actually dating’ Waverly reminded herself sternly, refusing to allow her mind to wander where it had just threatened to go.
Maybe it was the alcohol coursing through her, or maybe it was the look on Champ’s face spurring her on, but Waverly found herself taking hold of Nicole’s hand and pulling her up along with her. “Actually, I want to dance.” The music had grown steadily louder and faster since happy hour had ended, and a few people were already up on the small dance floor at the back of the bar.
Nicole allowed herself to be lead there by the younger woman, enjoying the feeling of Waverly’s hand in her own. She cast a smug glance back at Champ as she and Waverly began dancing. She didn’t miss the less than discrete thumbs-up that the older Earp shot her from the bar.
Nicole wasn’t much of a dancer. She was happy to just follow Waverly’s lead. She expected Waverly to want to go sit back down when a slower song started up, but she surprised her by sliding her arms around Nicole’s neck. Nicole’s hands were almost shaking as she tentatively placed them on Waverly’s hips.
“Looks like I’m getting something out of this after all.” Waverly chuckled in her ear as she placed her head down on Nicole’s shoulder.
“The look on Champ’s face.” Waverly answered in a giggle, burying her face in the side of Nicole’s neck to try and hide her amusement from her ex.
“Oh…” Nicole let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in. She brought her chin down to rest on the top of the much shorter woman, trying to hide her own disappointment.
“I need to use the bathroom.” Nicole made an excuse to pull away the second the slow song started and another, much faster, beat started up. She didn’t stick around long enough to pick up on whether or not Waverly thought she was being weird.
Haught’s impressive height gave her a considerable advantage in pushing her way through the crowded bar in order to get over to the bathrooms. She made it across Shorty’s in record time, slamming the door of the woman’s bathroom shut behind her and slumping back against it.
“Stupid. Stupid…” She clenched her eyes shut and shook her head, trying her best to clear it. She and Waverly were faking. It wasn’t real. None of this was real…
Nicole’s eyes snapped open as the door was pushed open with some force, shoving her forward. She quickly turned to find the last person she expected to be standing in front of her. “Champ? What the hell? This is the ladies bathroom, idiot! You shouldn’t be in here!”
“Well if a damn dyke can be in here there then so can I!” Champ bellowed. His face was twisted in an ugly expression and his fingers were clenched into a fist around the neck of his beer bottle. Warning lights started flashing in Nicole’s head.
“Champ, turn around and walk away. Now.” Nicole’s voice dropped into the lower, more authoritative, tone that she reserved for using on the drunks that she stopped whenever she pulled traffic detail. Her right hand automatically went to her hip, but both her utility belt and her gun were back at the apartment.
“You think you’re so special, don’t ya?” He slurred, pointing a beefy finger firmly in Nicole’s direction as he wobbled in front of the only exit. Suddenly completely sober, Nicole’s attention was divided between closely watching Champ and scanning for a means of escape if the situation turned ugly. “Well, you’re not! Someone should teach you a god-damn lesson!”
Nicole didn’t shrink under his glare. If anything, she stood straighter. Nicole Haught wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet. She was a fully trained Sheriff’s Deputy and more than capable of handling herself. That being said, Champ was a big guy and a gym-rat to boot. Nicole was weighing up her options when the door burst open a second time.
Before either Nicole or Champ could react, Wynonna was standing in the open doorway with Peacemaker pressed against the back of Champ’s head. “I don’t think you’re meant to be in here.” Wynonna cocked the hammer for added emphasis as Champ went to take a step toward Nicole.
“This isn’t over!” He growled at Nicole, before turning tail and storming out. Wynonna let the door shut back over behind him, shooting Nicole a concerned look.
Nicole nodded. She wasn’t too concerned for herself. She wanted to get back out there and keep an eye on Waverly; just in-case Champ decided to turn his simmering anger on her. “Nic-” Wynonna started, but the deputy was already out the door and making her way back over towards Waverly.
The youngest Earp was sitting back at their table. Nicole was relieved to find Gus standing over her, a protective hand on her shoulder. “Didn’t think I’d leave her on her own, did you?” Wynonna appeared behind Nicole with a grin. “Give me some credit, Haught.” She knocked her shoulder into Nicole’s before walking up to join her sister and her aunt.
Nicole felt a flood of relief. It didn’t last long, however, as Wynonna leaned over Waverly and said something right in her ear. Waverly’s eyes widened and she started scanning the crowd for any sign of Nicole. The older woman mentally prepared herself for the onslaught as Waverly all but jumped out of her chair and made her way over towards her.
Except she wasn’t going for Nicole. She was making a beeline right for Champ. She was a hair’s breadth away from her ex when Nicole intercepted her. Despite the younger woman’s objections, Nicole shepherded her back towards their table. The firm arm around her waist left Waverly little option but to go with it.
“Asshole…” Waverly grumbled under her breath. Glancing over her shoulder she found Champ watching them. An idea struck her. “Come on.” She stopped fighting Nicole and instead started tugging her towards the bar. Nicole went with it, happy that the other woman wasn’t trying to go after Champ anymore.
Waverly surprised her by leaning over the bar and swiping a bottle of bourbon. Without letting go of Nicole’s hand, she slipped behind the bar and through the door that led to the supply room; as well as the stairs leading up to the apartment above the bar.
“Interesting choice of decor.” Nicole nodded towards the buckshot in the wall, right above the bed.
“Oh. Yeah.” Waverly blushed but offered no explanation. Walking over to the kitchenette she pulled two tumblers out of one of the cupboards. She’d left a few items in the apartment after she’d moved out. “I’m sorry about Champ-”
“You don’t have to apologize for him.” Nicole reassured her with an easy smile. “He’s an immature, insecure, boy-man. Besides, he thinks I’ve stolen you away from him… Can’t really blame him for being pissed.”
“I can and I will.” Huffed Waverly. She poured out two generous measures of bourbon and handed one of the glasses to Nicole. Waverly picked the other one up for herself. “Do you want to sit down, Officer? You’re making the place look untidy.”
Nicole case a nervous glance around the room. The only viable place to sit down was the bed. “Uh, I’m good. Thanks. Maybe we should go back downstairs? Wynonna’s probably missing us by now-” She went to walk around the smaller girl, but Waverly stood her ground.
With a small smirk and a gentle shove, she pushed Nicole backward. Luckily, the edge of the bed broke her fall. “Nic, sit down, shut up, and drink your drink. We’re going to stay up here - finish this bottle - and really give Champ Hardy something to think about.”
Nicole woke with a start, quickly followed by a groan. Light poured in from the window opposite the bed, half-blinding her. Nicole snapped her eyes shut again. Her head felt like it was about to explode.
“Waves?” She croaked out, her voice dry and cracked. She risked cracking one eye halfway open and found the other side of the bed empty. “Waverly?”
Nicole had passed out sometime around the early hours of the morning. Waverly had been lying beside her, lamenting just how terrible Champ had been in bed. The memory brought a wry smile to Nicole’s lips.
She opened both eyes all the way once she’d adjusted to the brightness of the room. The sheets beside her were rumpled like someone had been sleeping beside her until fairly recently.
Nicole reached out with one hand, finding the other side of the bed still faintly warm. “Waverly?” She called out again. Her voice echoed back at her in the empty apartment.
The world around her began to swim as Nicole got to her feet. She stumbled over to the door leading down to the bar. A glance at her watch told her it was barely nine. Shorty’s wouldn’t open for another couple of hours.
She was barefoot and barely made a sound as she descended to the lower floor. There was music coming from the bar, along with the soft sounds of someone humming along to the tune.
Nicole stood leaning against the doorway, her arms crossed over her chest and an absent smile on her lips as she watched Waverly dancing away behind the bar.
Nicole stayed quiet for as long she could, but couldn’t help the soft chuckle that eventually escaped. Waverly almost jumped a foot in the air. “How aren’t you dying right now?”
Nicole felt like she’d been hit by a freight train, yet Waverly looked as fresh as a daisy. She’d showered and changed into some clean clothes that she’d left there when she moved out.
“That’s the good old Earp constitution.” Said Waverly, as cheerful as always. She dropped the rag she’d been using to wipe the bar down and lowered the volume on the radio.
“And how do I go about getting one of those?” Nicole asked, only half joking.
“Oh, you know, come from about four or five generations of heavy drinkers.” Waverly shrugged. “Failing that I could get you some coffee?”
“Could I be a pain and ask for some tea?” Nicole walked around the other side of the bar and took a seat on one of the stools. She propped up her head with one hand, watching gratefully as Waverly set about preparing her a cup.
“I suppose it’s the least I could do, seeing as I was the one who led you astray.” Waverly joked.
“You wouldn’t be the first pretty girl to do that.” Nicole shot back, somehow still managing to be smooth despite the raging hangover she was suffering with.
Waverly laughed it off, hiding her blush as she carried on prepping the bar for opening. “What time are you working today?”
“Oh god, don’t mention the W word.” Nicole groaned, burying her face in her hands. “I should probably head home. I start in a couple of hours. I have no idea in hell how I’m meant to get through my shift with this headache, though.”
“Want my advice?” Waverly propped herself up on her elbows, leaning over the bar. “Pop two aspirin, go take a long, hot, shower and I’ll have dinner ready for when you finish. How does that sound?”
“That sounds… pretty damn good.”
An eight-hour shift had never felt so long to Nicole. She’d pulled traffic duty, and had spent most of her shift parked at the side of the main road into town.
A fresh dusting of snow had fallen overnight, bringing the temperature outside of the cruiser down into negative figures. Nicole had cranked up the heat in an effort to stave off the bitter cold, but it had almost sent her off to sleep, so she kept having to shut it off.
She hadn’t handed out a single ticket all day. Hell, she could count how many cars she’d actually seen pass her on one hand. Nicole was close to clocking off and calling it a day when a familiar truck rumbled past, heading into town at breakneck speeds.
Nicole flipped on her blues-and-twos and sped after the truck. The driver took his time in pulling over, so Nicole took her time in stepping out of her cruiser. She left the driver stewing while she filled out the details on the speeding ticket.
Placing her hat firmly on her head, she finally got out of the car and approached the other vehicle. The driver looked antsy. He had his hands on the wheel and kept glancing back over his shoulder as she walked slowly up to the driver’s window.
“License and registration, sir.” Nicole’s tone was clipped and formal. It gave away no sign that she knew the man behind the wheel.
“Seriously?” Spat Champ. His hands were gripping the wheel so tightly that his knuckles were turning white.
Ignoring his outburst, Nicole repeated her request for his papers. “This is fucking harassment!” He yanked open the glove box and began slamming around, looking for his registration.
He was too preoccupied to notice the sheriff’s deputy moving out of the corner of his eye. The first indication he had that Nicole had even moved was when his face hit the wheel. “What the-”
“You think this is harassment, Chump?” Nicole growled low in his ear, using her upright position to her advantage to keep the pressure up on the back of his neck. “This is going to seem like a tea party if you don’t stay the hell away from Waverly. You go that?”
“It’s a free country! I can talk to who the hell I want!” Champ huffed. He sounded more like a petulant child than a grown-ass-man.
“Sure it is.” Nicole pressed his face down a little harder against the unyielding wheel. “You can talk to whoever you want, Champ. Hell, you can even follow girls into bathrooms and scream at them, if you want.”
“But you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences. Think about that the next time you want to ‘talk’ to either me, or Waverly.” Nicole finally pulled her hand away from his neck. His head recoiled instantly as he brought one beefy hand to cradle the back of it. He glared daggers at the deputy, but for once was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
Nicole shot him a crude look off her own as she ripped the top ticket off of her book and tossed it carelessly at him. With a smile as fake as the cheery tone in her voice, she placed one hand on the holster at her hip and said, “Have yourself a nice day, sir.”
Nicole had a spring in her step as she walked through the front door of the apartment she shared with the youngest Earp. She was even whistling as she hung up her hat on the peg by the door and unbuckled her utility belt.
“Someone’s mood has improved!” Waverly called out from somewhere deeper inside the apartment. From the heavenly scent floating in the air, Nicole would have to guess she was in the kitchen. “Hangover gone?”
“Not quite.” She called back. Slipping off her boots, she padded down the hall, through the living room, and into her bedroom. After typing in the code to her gun safe - her oldest niece’s birthday - she slipped her service weapon inside and locked it back up again.
Her cat was lying stretched out on its back on her bed, paws up in the air and content expression on its face. “Hey, little lady.” She scratched behind the cat’s ears and then moved on to rub at its belly.
“Should I be jealous the cat gets a better greeting than I do?” Waverly teased from over by the door. When Nicole turned around she found the other woman leaning against the door frame, wearing her trademark tiny shorts and one of her Shorty’s shirts tied up at the waist.
An easy smile tugged at Nicole’s lips. “You can have a tummy rub too if you want?” She laughed, the lingering remnants of her hangover and the stiffness in her back no longer seeming all that bad. Not with Waverly around.
“Yeah, I’ll pass.” Waverly wrinkled her nose, an adorable crease forming on her brow. “Hell-spawn over there would probably claw my eyes out.”
“Her name is Flora! And she’s as gentle as a lamb! Aren’t you girl?” Nicole scooped the cat up, cradling it like an infant as she cooed at it.
“More like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Waverly muttered under her breath. Louder, she announced, “Wash up. Dinner’s almost ready.”
“Smells good. I can’t remember the last time I had a home cooked meal.” Nicole placed the cat back down on the bed. It immediately scampered off, giving Waverly a haughty look on its way past her.
Nicole went and took a quick shower while Waverly plated up their evening meal. It was some kind of chicken and quinoa salad that initially had Nicole turning her nose up at it. Flora’s cat food looked more appealing.
Not wanting to upset Waverly she gave it a try, expecting to have to take small bites and move the food around her plate in an elaborate pantomime of eating.
Nicole, however, was pleasantly surprised by the explosion of flavor after the first mouthful. “Wow, this is good.” She complimented. Cooking was obviously one of Waverly’s many hidden talents.
There were fresh bread rolls on the table that were still warm to the touch as Nicole picked one up. “Did you bake these? Jesus, Waves… Marry me?” She was only half kidding as she tore apart a roll and dipped it in the sauce.
Waverly was beaming under the other woman’s praise. Gus had taught her to cook and it had always been something she enjoyed.
She had used to have regular dinner parties with her friends; on who she could test out her newest recipes, found on Pinterest or Tumblr. Waverly hadn’t cooked much lately. Wynonna’s idea of a nutritious meal was having a slice of lime with her tequila chaser.
Waverly hadn’t exactly had the perfect home life growing up. Her drunk of a father hadn’t been big on family dinners. Living with her aunt and uncle had gifted her with some semblance of a normal life; if you overlooked Wynonna’s frequent trips to juvie, and the fact that Waverly herself slept under her bed until the age of nine.
Living with Nicole - no matter how briefly, and ignoring the unusual circumstances - was probably the closest thing to a normal domestic life that Waverly had ever experienced. She felt her stomach twisting at the thought of how temporary all of this was.
“Hey, you still with me?” Asked Nicole. She had her chin resting on her upturned palm. Her hair was loose, still damp at the ends. She was smiling, but there was a touch of concern in her expression.
“Yeah.” Waverly shook her head, ridding herself of those troubling thoughts. There was no point in dwelling on what was to come. She was with Nicole right then. That was all that mattered.
She didn’t need to waste time worrying about little things; like the butterflies that Nicole’s easy smile triggered in her stomach, or just what they meant. “I hope you’re hungry, I made pie for desert.”
“I’m stuffed…” Nicole sighed, warily eyeing the empty pie plate that was sitting on the coffee table.
“You probably shouldn’t have had thirds.” Waverly prodded her in the side, making the Sheriff’s deputy let out a groan.
“But it was so good!” Nicole shifted on the couch, tucking her legs underneath her and lying her head down on the arm of the chair. Her eyes closed over, and not for the first time that night.
Nicole was exhausted. She was still recovering from the night before and a long day stuck in her patrol car. It was her turn on the couch and she wasn’t looking forward to it. As if reading her mind, Waverly said “You can sleep in the bed tonight if you want?”
“No, no I couldn’t. It’s your turn to take the bed tonight.”
“Well… We could both take it?” The younger woman’s suggestion took Nicole by surprise. It must have shown on her face, because Waverly quickly added, “I mean, it’s no big deal. We shared last night… It’s just like a sleepover!”
It would be exactly like a sleepover. Nicole couldn’t count the times she’d shared a bed with her best friend as a teen, wishing that something more could happen. “Sure.” The single word slipped out without her consent. “No big deal… Let’s go to bed.”
Nicole reasoned that sharing a bed with Waverly wouldn’t be that hard. They had managed it just the night before. Of course, they had been so drunk that Nicole had pretty much passed out at some point. She hadn’t actively decided to sleep beside Waverly. She hadn’t been conscious enough to be aware of the smaller woman’s lithe body pressed up against her, or Waverly’s cheek nuzzling in to the crook of her shoulder for most of the night.
Climbing in to bed with Waverly Earp while sober was an entirely different matter. After changing for bed and taking it in turns to use the bathroom - Nicole brushed her teeth three times to delay having to go back in to the bedroom - they were left facing each other from across the bed. At least Waverly slept on the opposite side to her, the deputy mused silently. That was one less thing to worry about.
“So… Let’s get this show on the road.” Waverly joked. She was nervous and she could feel herself balancing precariously on the edge of hysteria. She was about to share a bed with Nicole Haught; a woman who could make her cheeks burn and her stomach roll with just a single look.
“The sleeping I mean!” The younger girl quickly elaborated, suddenly fearing how her earlier outburst might have sounded. “You and me and the sleeping… On our own sides of the bed.” Waverly slipped under the covers before she could embarrass herself any further. Nicole followed after her, switching off the lamp on her side and casting the room in to a comforting darkness.
Waverly was grateful for the absence of light, it meant Nicole couldn’t see the blush that had spread its way across her cheeks as she had allowed her mind to wander towards the less wholesome things they could be doing in bed.
“Goodnight, Waves.” Said Nicole. She was lying on her side, facing the window and away from the other woman.
“Goodnight.” Waverly answered in a squeak, her voice betraying her embarrassment.
She had no idea why had she even suggested they share a bed. That revelation didn’t come until much later. When, sometime in the dead of night, she woke up to find her head resting on Nicole’s chest. Nicole’s arms were draped around her and their legs had become entwined together within the sheets. Had she woken up in a similar position with Champ she would have instantly recoiled.
Champ was a snorer and a mouth breather to boot. Waverly had hated waking up with him lying on top of her, his beer breath hot and heavy on the side of her face. Nicole wasn’t a snorer, and she didn’t lie like a starfish taking up the whole bed either. Her weight at Waverly’s side was warm and comforting rather than oppressive.
Waverly was faced with a dilemma. She badly needed to pee, but she didn’t want to get out of bed and risk disturbing Nicole. Eventually the call of nature became too much. The younger woman gingerly untangled her limbs and padded barefoot in to the adjoining bathroom.
By the time she came back out her spot on the bed had been taken. Not by Nicole, who was still curled up on her side sleeping soundly, but by the damn cat. Flora lay there, stretched out and staring up at Waverly with those beady little eyes of hers. She just knew it wasn’t going to move, even before she walked back over to the bed.
“Shoo!” She hissed at the cat in a harsh whisper. Flora lifted her head long enough to give Waverly a dead-eyed stare before she dropped it back down to the bed. “Move!” Waverly tried again. She fell short of actually shoving the cat for fear of losing an eye if it jumped up and clawed at her face.
“Sorry…” Nicole mumbled sleepily. She shuffled backwards, closer to the edge of the mattress. Waverly felt a flood of guilt at waking her.
“Not you, Sweetie. The cat took my spot when I got up to pee, and now she won’t move.” Waverly hated her voice for sounding so whiny, but she was cold and tired and really wanted to get back in to bed.
Nicole cracked open one eye. She frowned at the ball of fur lying in front of her. “Scoot.” Nicole gave the cat’s behind a gentle push, urging it to its feet. Flora gave her owner a look of pure contempt before getting up and sauntering off.
Waverly quickly climbed back in to bed before the cat could change her mind and claim back her place. “You good?” Nicole let out a low yawn, her hand groping behind her to check if Waverly was there. Waverly caught hold of it, giving the other woman’s fingers a gentle, reassuring, squeeze. “Yeah. I’m good.”
The next morning was chaos. Waverly snoozed Nicole’s alarm without thinking. So by the time Waverly’s alarm went off, an hour later, Nicole was already late for work. The deputy took the quickest shower of her life whilst Waverly made breakfast and got dressed herself.
“Fuck!” Waverly winced as she heard Nicole swearing loudly from within the bedroom.
“Nic, again, I’m really sorry about the alarm-”
“It’s fine, Waves.” Nicole called back, though she sounded tense. Waverly understood why when she walked in to the living room.
“I’ve got bigger problems right now.” Nicole indicated her shirt, which was unbuttoned even lower than it usually was; to the point that Waverly could just about see the swell of her breasts.
“I know Nedley’s pretty relaxed about the dress code but you might want to do up another button there… or maybe three?”
“I would if I could.” Nicole huffed. “I lost a button… and it had to be the damn middle one!” Nicole held the offending button in her hand, like it was some kind of crucial evidence in a crime.
“Haven’t you got another shirt?”
“I haven’t done the laundry yet. Maybe I could just pin it?”
“Take it off.”
“What?” Nicole blanched. “I, uh...”
“Shirt. Off. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before; besides, it’ll make us even.” Waverly teased.
“Only if I get stuck in it first.” Nicole grumbled, but complied anyway. She slipped off her shirt and crossed her arms over her chest once the offending garment was in in Waverly’s hands.
“Go eat breakfast, I’ll have this sown back on in a jiffy.”
“She cooks and sows. What a catch.” Nicole remarked with a grin. “What would I do without you?”
“Wake up on time?” Waverly scoffed. “I hope Nedley doesn’t chew you out too badly for being late.”
Nicole gave her a halfhearted shrug. “It’s fine. I’ll just tell him you refused to let me out of bed this morning.”
“Oh great, so it can get around town that I’m some kind of raving sex maniac?” Waverly shot back, barely biting back a smirk. Nicole shrugged again, wearing a coy look. “It’s always the quiet ones.”
“Huh.” Waverly frowned. “That’s weird. I’m not that quiet… at least not in bed.”
Nicole’s jaw almost hit the kitchen table as Waverly gave her a smug grin. She walked off to fetch the sewing kit, leaving the other woman staring after her.
The deputy was forty minutes late for work by the time she and Waverly turned up at the station, but at least all of the buttons on her shirt were in place; if not fastened. She expected to be chewed out by Nedley, but he merely glanced at the couple and offered them a nod as he walked past the reception, heading for his office while the two women made for the kitchen.
“In what universe do I beat you in to work?” Wynonna frowned at the deputy, genuine concern marring her expression as she sat with her feet propped up on the battered wooden table.
“The universe in which your sister sabotaged my alarm.” Nicole huffed, still smarting over being late as she poured herself a mug of coffee.
“Quit sulking. I said I was sorry, and I made you breakfast!” Waverly poked the deputy in the side, pulling a smile from her as she sat perched on the edge of her desk.
“You never make me breakfast!” Huffed Wynonna.
“You don’t eat breakfast.” Waverly rolled her eyes at her older sister. “Plus, you’re rarely ever up before noon!”
“Not the point.” She sulked.
“I’ll leave you guys to it. See you later, Waves.” Nicole chuckled. She picked up her coffee and pressed a chaste kiss to the side of Waverly’s cheek. “Later, Earp.” She tossed a wave over her shoulder at Wynonna.
“So… you two look cosy.” The oldest Earp gave her baby sister a conspiratorial grin.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Waverly did her best to try and act disinterested as she set about pouring herself a cup of coffee. “We’re pretending to date. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”
“Pretending. Sure.” Wynonna rolled her eyes. If she had anymore to say on the subject she didn’t get the chance to say it.
“Earp, we got a body. Possibly connected to a Revenant. Bring your gun.” Dolls clipped in his usual cheery tone. “Let’s move.”
“Yes, sir.” She gave her boss a mock salute, then turned her attention to Waverly. “You. We’ll finish this discussion later, young lady.” She waggled her finger at Waverly all the way out the room.
“Hey, Waves. Want a ride home?” Nicole asked. Scooping up her hat from her desk she placed it firmly on her head and looked expectantly over at Waverly. The younger woman was sat at the desk across from her and had been glued to her laptop for most of the afternoon; busy with whatever covert stuff it was that Black Badge dealt with.
“Sorry, Hot-Stuff.” Wynonna answered before Waverly had a chance to even glance up from her screen. “I’m stealing her away from you tonight. It sister’s night.”
“Oh.” Wynonna didn’t miss the way Nicole’s expression fell. “Sure. No problem. I guess I’ll just see you later.”
“Sister’s night? Since when?” Waverly frowned, grabbing at the deputy’s sleeve as she went to walk off. “We’ve never had a sister’s anything.”
“Well, now is as good a time as any to start.” Wynonna smirked, tugging Nicole’s sleeve free of the younger Earp’s grip. “Don’t worry Officer, I’ll get her home safe. You can have your bachelor pad all to yourself for the night.”
“Gee, thanks.” Nicole rolled her eyes as Waverly shot her an apologetic smile. “Have fun.”
The door had barely closed behind Nicole when Waverly turned around and smacked Wynonna in the arm. “Ouch! What the hell was that for?”
“You know why!” Waverly glared. “Why the hell were you being such a jerk to Nicole? Whatever you’ve got planned for tonight, you could have invited her!”
“Not really. Considering I plan on getting you blind drunk and asking you just how serious this thing between you and Haught is.”
“I… There’s nothing between me and Nicole! We’re just… Just…”
“Just super in to each other and both too idiotic to admit it?” Wynonna supplied helpfully.
“I’m not gay!” Waverly’s protest came out a little too loudly. She looked around sheepishly, conscious they were still in a public space.
“I didn’t say you were.” Scoffed Wynonna. “Being in to a chick doesn’t make you gay.”
“Yeah, when you’re a chick that’s in to chicks, it kind of does.” The younger woman frowned. “It’s kind of the very definition of gay.”
“Labels aren’t the be all and end all, Baby-girl. Trust me.”
“Wait, have you… Have you ever… I mean, with a girl?” Waverly stumbled over the question. Her older sister had never been shy about her sexual exploits, but she’d never mentioned other women before.
“Waves, I lived in Europe. Of course I banged chicks.” Wynonna shrugged the question off like it was nothing. Like she had just announced the day of the week, not her sexual preferences. Waverly couldn’t imagine ever doing that. She couldn’t picture herself ever standing up and admitting that she liked girls. Scratch that. She liked one girl. Woman. Whatever
“I don’t wanna bang Nicole.” Waverly’s cheeks grew flustered at the blatant lie. The memory of sharing a bed with the other woman was still lingering at the back of her mind.
Wynonna stared her down, arms folded across her chest and a disbelieving look written all over her face. “Okay, okay, so maybe it’s not beyond the realm of possibility! But what I meant was I don’t just want to hook up with her… I kind of like her. Like, like-like her.”
“Okay, that is far too many likes for one sentence. Let’s take this show on the road and get you back to the Homestead. There needs to be a lot more alcohol involved in this conversation.”
“Have you ever been serious with a girl?” The Earps were three drinks in to ‘sister’s night’ when the question slipped out of Waverly’s mouth. Wynonna had told her tales of working in a bar in Greece, picking up tourists and locals alike. This was hardly news to Waverly - her big sister had never exactly been hung up about sex - but finding out some of those conquests had been women had been a shock.
Wynonna took a long time in answering her. She cradled the almost empty beer bottle in one hand, picking absently at the label with the other. Her expression had grown dark and stormy; the way it always went when Wynonna was forced to talk about the past. It was a look usually reserved for conversations about Willa or their Daddy.
Waverly was ready to swiftly change the conversation altogether when Wynonna finally nodded. “Yeah. I have.” The younger Earp remained silent, waiting to see if Wynonna would tell her more or laugh off the suddenly serious mood with a crass joke.
“Her name was Sarah. She was a local… Good she was beautiful.” Wynonna let out a sudden laugh, shaking her head from side to side with a smirk. “Only person I ever chased. She wouldn’t give me the time of day when I first moved in to the village. It took me a month just to wear her down enough to go on a date with me.”
“I didn’t think you dated.” Waverly scoffed. She instantly regretted the comment as Wynonna’s smile slipped off her face. “Sorry, that was a totally bitchy thing to say-”
“It’s the truth.” The older sister shrugged her apology off. “I don’t do relationships. I tried though, for her. I fucked up. As usual.” Wynonna’s gaze dropped, guilt written all over her face as she carried on picking at the label on her beer.
Waverly wanted to ask what had happened, but she was afraid of what the answer might be. Wynonna looked torn up as it was. “Hey, I think we’ve got some vodka in the freezer. Why don’t I make us some margaritas, huh?”
“You should talk to Nicole. Tell her how you feel.” Wynonna wasn’t usually one to pass up on hard liquor, but she ignored Waverly’s suggestion in favor of giving her some sisterly advice. “Deputy Do-Right is crazy about you. Anyone can see that.”
“You really think so?” Waverly bit back a hopeful grin. She wasn’t stupid. She had picked up on Nicole’s flirting from their very first meeting in Shorty’s, but it was a big leap to go from casual flirting to actual dating. Waverly had suddenly found herself second guessing every smallest interaction between them. “Nic’s really friendly, what if I’m picking up signals and she’s just being… neighborly?”
Wynonna snorted. “Saying good morning is being neighborly. Eye-fucking you every time you walk in to the same room? Not so much.”
“She doesn’t do that.” Waverly’s cheeks grew scarlet. “Does she? Oh god. What if I’m not really gay? What if we get together and then I can’t… you know… Do the bedroom stuff? What if I fuck everything up and Nicole stops speaking to me?”
“First off, bedroom stuff? Really? What are you, ten? Second of all, you don’t have to jump in to bed with her tonight… though god knows it would do the two of you the world of good-”
“Sorry!” The older sister winced at Waverly’s shrill shriek. “Look, I’m no good at this kind of stuff. You should be talking to Gus. Or, better yet, Haught.”
Waverly pulled out her phone and glanced at the screen. Nicole had text her an hour ago to say she’d made dinner and had left a plate in the fridge for her if she was hungry later. Her usual two kisses finished the message off. “I know, and I will… just not right now. I need to be sure of what I’m feeling before I even think about talking to Nicole about this stuff.”
“It’s your life baby-girl. Just don’t take forever about it, okay? You’re not going to be young and hot forever.” Wynonna quipped.
“Gee, thanks.” Waverly rolled her eyes at her. “You’re really shit at this stuff, you know that right?”
“I wasn’t made for this stuff.” The older Earp shrugged unapologetically. “You want someone to braid your hair and sing Kumbaya with you? Go see Gus. You want someone to get wasted with, I’m your girl… Now, what were you saying about vodka?”
“I love you too, Nonna.”
Nicole glanced at the clock on the wall for the third time in the space of an hour. It was close to midnight and Waverly still wasn’t back. Which probably meant she was staying over at the Homestead. Shifting her focus back to the television, Nicole tried her best to ignore the sinking feeling in her gut at the thought of spending the night alone.
She and Waverly had barely lived together for a month, yet Nicole was already used to having her around. The thought of living alone again once their scam had run its course left her feeling sick to her stomach.
“Just gonna be me and you again soon, Flo.” She sighed at her cat as it jumped up on to her lap and began butting its head against her hand in a cry for attention. “You wouldn’t mind that, would you? Huh? You little scamp.”
Both Nicole and the cat jumped as her cell phone suddenly started to ring beside her. Shooing the cat aside, she reached for the phone. Her face lit up at the name that appeared on the screen. “Hey, Waves. How’s sister’s night going?”
“Heeeey, you!” Waverly giggled down the other end of the phone. “It’s going awesomely… but I’m really tired - and a little bit drunk - and I really just want to come home.”
“Do you want me to come get you?” Nicole offered, hoping against hope that Waverly would say yes.
“No, no! I couldn’t ask you to come all the way out here. It’s late. I’ll just have to stay over.”
“Waverly, you don’t have to ask.” Nicole bit back a smile. “I’ll be there in fifteen.”
“Thanks, Babe. I’ll see you soon.”
“No problem.” Nicole was out the door and in her car before she’d even hung up.
A fresh dusting of snow had fallen after the sun had set. She let the cruiser’s engine run a little to warm up before she pulled out of her parking space and set off for the Earp Homestead. The ranch was on the very outskirts of town, in the opposite direction of the city. Street-lamps became fewer and father between the further out Nicole got, until she was driving by the beams of her headlights alone.
It was trying to snow again, and the temperature outside the car had dropped below freezing. Nicole had cranked the heat up, but it was sending her to sleep. Stifling back a yawn, she cracked the window open. The harsh breeze bit painfully at her cheeks, but it did the job.
Nicole pulled up outside the ranch house and honked the horn to let Waverly know she was there. She felt rude for not going up to the door to say hi to Wynonna, but it was far too cold out. She honked a second time, glancing impatiently at her watch. There was no sign of Waverly. The lights were on downstairs, but the curtains were drawn over so Nicole couldn’t see if the sisters were even still awake.
Waverly had sounded pretty tipsy on the phone. There was a good chance she had fallen asleep waiting for her. Nicole reached for the horn again, but something else on the central console caught her eye. Smirking, she flicked the switches that started up the lights and the siren.
She left them on until the Earps appeared on the porch. Waverly was laughing, while Wynonna was glaring at her. Nicole tossed them a wave, her insides churning at the sight of Waverly’s smile. She could see that smile every second of every day and not grow tired of it.
The sisters hugged briefly before Waverly scampered down the porch steps and dashed to the car. Her cheeks were flushed and her nose was red. Nicole couldn’t work out whether it was from the cold or the alcohol.
Her eyes were soft and glazed as she beamed over at Nicole. “Thank you so much for coming! I need to fall in to bed, like, yesterday.” The younger woman flopped back against the seat, her eyes closing over.
“Hey, buckle up… Waves? You need to put your belt on, Sweetie.” The deputy prodded. “Waverly?”
“In a minute...”
“Babe, c’mon. I’m not starting the car until you’re buckled up.”
“Mhmm.” Waverly made no attempt to move. The short jog to the car seemed to have used up all of her energy. She kept her eyes closed over, her breathing dropping in to a more regular rhythm. Nicole rolled her eyes.
“Safety first.” Reaching over, she pulled Waverly’s belt across her and clipped it in to place. The other woman let out a small grumble.
“You’re like a walking bumper sticker, anyone ever told you that?”
“Yeah.” Nicole laughed, putting the cruiser in to gear. “Yeah, they have.” She blasted the siren again for Wynonna’s benefit.
The drive home was mostly silent, apart from Waverly asking her to roll up the window. “Sorry, I can’t. It’s keeping me awake. I don’t want to fall asleep behind the wheel.”
“I’ll keep you awake!” Waverly murmured, her eyes already closing over.
“Okay, but who’s going to keep you awake?”
“You! Silly.” Waverly shifted in her seat so she was leaning in to Nicole’s side. She shivered, wishing Nicole would just shut the window already.
“Of course… silly me.” Nicole chuckled. She lifted her arm up and draped it over Waverly’s shoulder, letting her cuddle in closer. For warmth.
The drive home seemed to take longer than the drive there. Nicole had eased her foot off the gas, not wanting to disturb the girl sleeping shotgun. “Time to get up.” Nicole gently shook Waverly awake once they finally pulled up outside the apartment block. “We’re home.”
Waverly dragged her heels in getting out the car. She rubbed at her eyes like a toddler waking up from a nap. “Oh no.” Nicole sighed out loud as she caught sight of Mrs Thompson walking her dog by the front entrance.
“Don’t worry, we got this!” Waverly grabbed her hand. “Hey Mrs T!”
“Oh, hello girls.” The old busy-body smiled at them. Nicole was hoping for a quick get-away, but Waverly stooped down to pet the dog; dragging Nicole’s still clasped hand with her.
“Oh my god, he’s so cute! Look at him, Nic! Can we get a dog? Can we? Pleeease?”
“I don’t think Flo would appreciate it.” Nicole said dryly.
“Fuck her. That cat is a… vindictive… evil little-”
“Excuse us, Mrs Thompson. Waverly’s had a bit to drink.” Nicole made a hasty apology as she tried to tug the other woman back to her feet and towards the door.
“Hey! No, I wanna stroke the doggy!” Waverly pulled away like a petulant five year old throwing a tantrum in the supermarket. Her patience already at breaking point, Nicole scooped her up without warning and threw her over her shoulder in a fireman’s lift.
Waverly let out a squeal, which quickly turned to laughter. “Sorry Mrs T, Nicole is so damn impatient to get me in to bed! She just wants sex… all the time! It’s exhausting!”
Nicole’s cheeks were burning as brightly as her hair as she threw their elderly landlord another apology and quickly escaped inside. She carried her all the way up the first flight of stairs before she risked putting the smaller girl down.
“I can’t believe you just said that.” Nicole pinched the bridge of her nose, feeling a tension headache coming on.
“What? I was selling it! She totally thinks we’re a couple… who has lots of sex. Awesome sex… Really, fucking, great sex-”
“I would not want to be you in the morning.” Nicole sighed. She cracked a smile despite herself as she put the key in to their apartment door. “God, her face.”
At least the worst was over with. Waverly was home safe and it was just a matter of getting her in to bed. Nicole’s stomach flipped at the thought of bedding Waverly; and all of that amazing sex they were supposed to be having.
She was ripped from her fantasies when she heard Waverly hissing at the cat. “Waves, for fuck…” Nicole stopped and counted to five before she started again. “Sweetie, don’t growl at the cat. Let’s get you changed and in to bed.”
“Okay.” Waverly had already slipped her coat off and left it in a heap by the door. She surprised the deputy by suddenly tugging her shirt up over her head and letting it drop to the floor.
Nicole was so stunned by the sight of an abundance of tanned flesh, a stark black bra, and rock hard abs that she just stared as Waverly’s fingers stumbled over the buttons of her jeans. Suddenly coming to her senses - just as Waverly pulled the offending jeans down - Nicole spun around to face the wall.
“What are you doing?” Waverly laughed, her voice coming out in a little sing-song tone. “Are you seriously turning away? Come on Nic, I’m sure you’ve seen it all before.”
“Uh, yeah… I mean no.” Nicole was flustered as she turned back around struggling to keep her eyes on Waverly’s face, and not the swell of her pert breasts.
“Well, which is it?” Waverly grinned. She was secretly enjoying the warm flush that had spread over Nicole’s cheeks, as well as the way her eyes kept darting down.
“I mean… Yes, of course I’ve seen loads of girls in their underwear before. No… I didn’t mean a lot of girls! I’m not like a slut or anything, I… Just, you’re Waverly. You’re my friend, and you’ve been drinking and… we should get you some PJs.”
“Okay, Officer. If you insist.” Waverly decided to finally put her out of her misery, sauntering past Nicole to get to the bedroom and put some clothes on. Nicole watched her go, her eyes affixed firmly on Waverly’s ass.
“You coming?” Waverly called out. She popped her head around the door frame, flashing those big brown eyes at her roommate. “You’re sleeping in here again tonight, right?”
“Uh… yeah. Sure. Be right in.” Nicole answered. To herself she muttered “Lord, have mercy…”
Growing up an Earp, especially in Purgatory, had always had its drawbacks. One of the few advantages of Waverly’s lineage came in the form of her tolerance to alcohol. Hangovers were a rarity. Which was a small mercy the morning after a night spent matching Wynonna drink for drink.
Waverly woke up with a relatively clear head. Though the inside of her mouth tasted foul. She pushed the covers back, noticing that the other side of the bed was empty. Her sole focus at that point was on getting the horrid taste out of her mouth. She slipped into the en-suite bathroom and thoroughly brushed her teeth.
Once that was taken care of she set about finding Nicole. She could hear the other woman banging about in the kitchen. The scent of fried bacon wafted through the small apartment, guiding Waverly towards the kitchen.
She stood leaning against the door frame, her arms crossed as she appreciated the sight of Nicole swinging her hips in time to the music playing on the radio. “What’s cooking good lookin’?” Waverly cracked, laughing as Nicole jumped.
“Jesus, Waves! You nearly gave me a heart attack.” Nicole put a hand to her chest. “I thought you were still sleeping.”
“I was. I think my stomach woke me up.”
“I was letting you sleep. I was going to wake you once breakfast was done.” Said Nicole. “You were getting it in bed… I guess that’s out the window.”
“What?” Waverly’s eyes widened. “Whoa, let’s not be hasty! We could forget I ever got up. I could climb back into bed, you could finish what you’re doing…” Nicole answered with a roll of her eyes.
“You’ve got five minutes to get your ass into bed, Earp.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Waverly gave her a mock salute. “Me and my ass will be waiting for you in bed.”
“God damn.” Nicole shook her head, watching her scamper off down the hall. It was a sight she could get used to. They’d been living together for a little less than a month, but Nicole was already used to having the other woman around. She didn’t want to think about Waverly moving out anytime soon.
It would happen eventually. Sooner or later Waverly would decide their charade had gone on long enough to fool Mrs. Thompson and then she’d be gone.
There would have to be a public breakup of course. Nicole still wasn’t sure how they were going to pull that off without her taking over from Wynonna as the town pariah. They would need to talk about it, but Nicole didn’t want to be the one to bring it up.
Putting aside all thoughts of their impending ‘break-up’ she plated up breakfast, poured out two glasses of orange juice and put it all on a tray. She walked into the bedroom and found Waverly rolled up in the comforter like a burrito.
“Okay, if I don’t get at least half of the covers I’m taking these pancakes and camping out on the sofa,” Nicole said, only half joking.
“I can commit to forty percent and that’s my best offer,” Waverly grumbled, poking her head out. Nicole couldn’t help but laugh as the smaller girl struggled to unwrap herself. Nicole slipped in beside her and placed the tray down on her lap.
They ate in a comfortable silence, with Waverly swiping pancakes from Nicole’s plate and Nicole pretending not to notice. “We need a TV in here,” Waverly announced once Nicole returned from putting their dirty dishes in the sink. “I have the whole day off and I just want to lie in bed and watch TV.
“Sorry. I’ve just never had a TV in my bedroom.” Nicole shrugged apologetically.
“Really? What do you do for fun then? Oh god…” Waverly’s eyes widened comically almost as soon as the question left her mouth. “I didn’t mean… I…”
“I’ve managed pretty well without a TV so far.” Nicole laughed, dragging out Waverly’s embarrassment.
“Really? And how much entertaining have you done in the bedroom lately? Waverly challenged, turning the tables on her and making Nicole splutter.
“I, uh… small town. Limited dating options.” She shrugged. “Unless you count the offers of sexual favors for ripping up traffic tickets… I’m kidding.” She added hastily at the look Waverly was giving her.
“Answer the question, smart ass. When was the last time you… you know.” Nicole rolled on to her back and let out a sigh as she considered the question.
“Well, I’ve been here for four months now. So… four months.”
“Girlfriend or casual hook up?” Waverly asked though she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know.
“Uh, fiancee actually.”
“You were engaged? Why didn’t she move out here? Did you guys break up before you got the job or… Sorry.” Waverly caught herself. She was babbling again and asking far too many questions. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.
“No. No, it’s fine.” Nicole insisted. She rolled back on to her side again so she was facing Waverly. “It’s okay. I don’t mind. To answer your first question, yes I was engaged. Meagan and I were together for three years. She asked me to marry her last year… and I said yes.”
“Why didn’t she come to Purgatory with you then? Did she not want to move out of the city?”
“She didn’t want me being a cop anymore. After I got shot-”
“You were shot?” Waverly’s eyes grew comically wide. “Seriously?”
“Yeah.” Nicole laughed sheepishly. “Funny story, it was actually the second time I was shot.”
“Twice? You were shot twice? Okay, we’re stitching Kevlar into your uniform!”
“You sound like her.” Nicole laughed again, though this time it was mirthless. “Getting shot the first time was actually how we met. I’d barely been out of the academy six months when it happened. My partner and I attended a house on a domestic call. I had the guy in cuffs outside, my partner was talking to the wife, trying to persuade her to press charges.”
“We didn’t know about the son. Twelve years old and he comes out carrying his dad’s revolver. I took one in the gut.” Nicole rubbed absently at a spot just above her hip. “I passed out. When I woke up in the hospital Meagan was standing over me. I asked her if she was an angel.”
“Was she a nurse?”
“A doctor. She was working in the ER when I was brought in. She came to see me every day when I was in recovery. The day I got discharged I asked her out on a date…” Nicole wore an absent smile as she thought back to the start of her and Meagan’s relationship. It had been wonderful in the beginning.
Waverly could see how much the other woman had meant to her. It was written all over Nicole’s face. “What happened?”
“I got shot the second time. Six months ago, right before Nedley asked me to come work for him here in Purgatory. It wasn’t a big deal, I was wearing my vest. Only got a little bruised… but she got scared. Asked me to quit the force. I said no.”
“So she broke up with you?”
“No. We argued over it for a while, but eventually, I told her I wasn’t quitting. Then Nedley offered me the job here.”
“And she wouldn’t move?”
“No. She wanted to.” Nicole’s voice wavered. “She offered to quit her job, leave the apartment and all of our friends behind and come here.”
The deputy lapsed in to silence again, her gaze a million miles away. Waverly didn’t try and prompt her this time. Nicole was obviously struggling with what came next. “She was willing to give up her whole life for me, and I… I couldn’t say the same. So I ended it. Packed up, moved here and never looked back.”
“So, when was the last time you were entertained in the bedroom?” Nicole asked, trying to sound casual as she moved the conversation on from her ex. It was hard to do when she was lying on her side, propped up on one arm, with her face just inches away from Waverly’s. “I can’t imagine your Man-boy being very entertaining.”
“He had his moments.” Waverly rolled her eyes at her. Biting her lip, she rolled on to her back, staring up at the ceiling. “Champ’s the only person I’ve ever slept with.” She blurted it out in a rush, refusing to turn and look at Nicole. She felt like a fool for saying it out loud. She wasn’t even sure why she’d said it.
Maybe she wanted her to know that she hadn’t been with a ton of guys; like that mattered for something. “We started dating when I was nineteen. He was my first… maybe that’s why I gave him so many chances… stupid, I know.”
“You’re not.” Said Nicole. She shifted so she was holding one of Waverly’s hand in her own. “You’re the smartest person I know, Waverly Earp. First love, that… that does funny things to people. It’s okay.”
“I don’t think I ever loved him. Not really.” Waverly admitted quietly.
She rolled on to her side - facing away from Nicole as she blinked back tears - but made sure to keep her hand in Nicole’s. She entwined their fingers together, suddenly scared of the other woman pulling away. Waverly had nothing to fear. Nicole shifted so that her arm was wrapped protectively around her, their hands still joined. Her voice was a soft murmur by Waverly’s ear. “That’s okay too.
“I can’t believe Wynonna talked us in to going to Shorty’s again tonight.” Waverly sighed into the bathroom mirror as she skillfully applied her eyeliner. Nicole chuckled from over on the bed, where she was already fully dressed and waiting on Waverly.
“She can be pretty persuasive.”
“I’m sick of spending my nights off at work.” She rolled her eyes at the Deputy. “I want to go out to the city! I want to go dancing. I want to dance and drink until the sun comes up and I forget all about Purgatory.”
Nicole’s amused expression sobered into an earnest smile. “Okay. We’ll do it. Next time we both have the night off, and the morning after. We’ll go to the city. I know some good clubs.”
“Really?” Waverly perked up, her smile reaching from ear to ear.
“Really.” Said Nicole. “Tonight, though, we’ll just have to make do with Shorty’s.”
Sunday nights in Shorty’s were usually hit or miss. The bar was either as quiet as the grave, or filled to the rafters. There was no in-between on a Sunday night. It was packed when Waverly and Nicole walked in hand and hand. Wynonna had already landed them a table by the bar. There were shots of god-knows what already waiting.
“Damn it, Earp. I’ve got work in the morning.”
“Me too,” Wynonna replied with a smirk as she handed one of the shots to Nicole. It was going to be one of those kind of nights.
Three beers in and they were standing around the pool table. Nicole had already lost one game to Wynonna and another to Waverly. She insisted a rematch from the youngest Earp, who looked at her with pity. “Aw, Babe. I couldn’t. There’s only so much defeat one girl can take in a night.”
“Rack ‘em, Waves.” Nicole shot back, refusing to back down.
“Alright, but let’s make it more interesting.” Waverly’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “The loser cooks for the rest of the week.” Nicole paused to consider the bet for a moment before nodding.
“Deal. You can break.”
Waverly lined up her shot, drew back the cue and delivered a clean break. The balls scattered nicely, with one of the reds sinking into a corner pocket. Her second shot didn’t fare so well, with a second red bouncing off the cushion. “Looks like you’re yellows.” She stepped aside to let Nicole take her shot.
“Looks like.” The Deputy muttered. Closing one eye, she bent down low, taking her time in lining up the shot. Her posture was a far cry from their earlier game when she had actually chipped a ball off the table and sent it rolling towards the bar.
With a precise thrust of her cue she sent one yellow knocking into a second, both landing in separate pockets. Waverly’s mouth hung open. “Fluke.” Waverly frowned. That frown deepened into a scowl as Nicole sunk the third ball.
“Damn, Haught. I never had you figured for a hustler.” Wynonna cracked. There was more to the Deputy than she’d first thought.
“Yeah, well, the best hustlers never look like hustlers. Waves, I’d start planning what you’re making for dinner tomorrow night.” A fourth ball went down.
“Really?” Waverly asked as Nicole bent over and lined up the next shot. She waited until Nicole had drawn her cue back before grabbing her by the hips. The cue spluttered forward, hitting a red ball and pocketing the white. “Looks like it’s my turn.”
“That’s winning, Babe.”
“Earps don’t make good losers. You’ll get used to it Haught-Stuff.” Wynonna laughed at the Deputy’s pout. She clapped her on the shoulder and leaned in conspiratorially to whisper in her ear. “Couple more shots and she won’t be able to see straight, never mind shoot straight.”
“Neither will I.” Nicole pointed out the fatal flaw in the eldest Earp’s plan.
“I’ll get you water. Obviously.” She scoffed at her. Nicole watched as Waverly sunk another ball and nodded.
Wynonna skipped off to the bar to order in the round of shots while Nicole went back to playing. “Uh, uh. Over there.” She ushered Waverly to the other side of the table as she went to stand behind her.
“Fine, fine.” Waverly threw her hands up, the picture of innocence as she moved to the bottom of the table. She bent over, resting her elbows on the edge of the pool table and pushing out her chest. “This okay?” She asked.
“Yeah, sure-” Nicole made the mistake of glancing up as she was taking her shot. She missed by a mile, almost tearing up a chunk of the felt.
“Shots!” Wynonna cheerfully announced, her timing impeccable. Nicole snatched the offered shot. She knocked it straight back, safe in the knowledge that it was only water.
“Fuck!” She choked as straight vodka burned its way down her throat. “What the hell, Earp?”
“What?” Wynonna shrugged. “I told you. Earps are sore losers.”
“I hate you both,” Nicole grumbled at the sisters.
“No, you don’t.” Waverly made her way around the table and helped herself to a shot, knocking it back without so much as a grimace. Nicole crossed her arms over her chest, feigning disinterest. “Do you? Huh?” Waverly saddled up to the other woman and draped her arms around her neck.
Nicole folded like a house of cards, her hands finding Waverly’s hips. “No.” She admitted with a huff. There were more than a few pairs of eyes on them. As usual, Purgatory’s newest couple was the center of attention. Nicole went with it, leaning in as Waverly reached up to kiss her.
Their exchanges had grown more confident over the time they’d spent playing house together, but Waverly’s enthusiasm took her by surprise as she felt her lips part and her tongue slip past hers. Nicole kissed her back in a way she never had before. For the first time, she allowed herself to kiss Waverly like she actually meant it.
“Okaaaay. I’ll leave you guys to it… and I’ll get more shots.” Wynonna downed the ones left on the tray and headed back to the bar, leaving the other two women to it. They only parted as Waverly ran the pad of her thumb over Nicole’s collarbone. She shuddered.
“Sorry. I’m sensitive there.” Nicole let out a shaky laugh. She brushed her hair back from her face with one hand and picked up her drink with the other.
“I’ll have to remember that.” Waverly teased, emboldened by the alcohol. She snatched Nicole’s glass out of her hand with a smirk. “I think I still have a game to win.”
“I think I’ll have steak tomorrow night.” Waverly grinned, giving a sulking Nicole a sidelong glance.
“You cheated.” Said the deputy. “I’m calling that bet null and void!”
“Uh uh, a bet’s a bet! I won, and you’re doing the cooking for the rest of the week.” Waverly wagged her finger in front of Nicole’s face and finished with a bop on the nose.
Wynonna had made sure to keep the drinks flowing all night and all three of them were well past tipsy. Nicole’s scowl melted into an adoring look as Waverly stuck the Bambi eyes on her. “How do you like your steak?”
“Oh my god, you’re so whipped!” Wynonna cracked up with laughter. “Like, so whipped!”
“Screw you!” Nicole huffed. Wynonna was sat with her feet on the table. Nicole shoved them away from her with a grunt.
“Wrong sister, Flatfoot.” The eldest Earp winked at the deputy, causing her to blush and duck her head. She hid behind her beer bottle, staring daggers at Wynonna.
“Lay off her, Nonna.” Waverly chastised. She shuffled closer to Nicole, resting her head on her shoulder. The bar had quietened down some, but there was still plenty of people around to see them. Waverly was committed to selling the story of them being together. That was her reasoning as she began running her fingers through Nicole’s hair.
Nicole was fine with the attention until Waverly’s thumb brushed against her collarbone again. The simple touch sent shock waves shooting south. Nicole bit her lip, trusting that it had been an accident. The second time it happened she clenched her fist. The third time she bolted out of her seat. “I… need the bathroom.”
Nicole all but ran to the girl’s bathroom, letting the door slam shut behind her. Walking over to one of the sinks she ran the cold tap and splashed the water on her face with a heavy sigh. It was a feeble attempt to try and deal with the hot flush that had crept over her at Waverly’s teasing touch.
Waverly Earp was going to be the death of her.
She expected the other girl to have followed her in, so she wasn’t surprised when she heard the door creak open. “Waves, I’m fine. I just needed to pee-”
Wynonna stood leaning against the door of the first bathroom stall, her arms crossed over her chest and a knowing look on her face. “Waverly wanted to come in here and check on you, but I convinced her to go to the bar. You’re welcome.”
“I’m fine.” Nicole tried to snatch a paper towel from the dispenser with a little too much force, pulling out a handful instead.
“You sure? You’re looking a little flustered there, Haught-shot.”
“Too much alcohol.” Nicole threw the wad of paper towels into the trash can by the door.
“Know the solution to that?” Wynonna slung her arm around the other woman, leading her back out to the bar. “More alcohol!”
“I think there’s a flaw in your logic there, Earp.”
“Trust me. I’m an expert on the topic. There is nothing in this world that can’t be solved by more booze.”
Nicole wasn’t so sure, but she allowed Wynonna to drag her back to their table. Waverly was bringing the drinks over just as they sat down. “You okay, babe?” She stood over Nicole, a concerned hand on her shoulder.
“I’m fine. Just needed to pee.” She forced a smile and covered Waverly’s hand with her own, squeezing it lightly to reassure her.
“You sure? We can go home if you want to?”
“I’m good. Don’t worry about it.” Nicole insisted, not wanting Waverly to worry. “FYI, your aunt’s coming over.”
Gus had come out from around the bar and was making her way towards their table. “Hi, Mrs. McCready.”
“Nicole, you’re living with my niece. Call me Gus, for Pete's-sake”
“Yes, Mrs- Uh, Gus.” Nicole had always felt awkward around Waverly’s aunt. The other girl was practically an orphan and Gus was the closest thing she had to a parent.
“I just wanted to invite you two to dinner this week. Don’t look so scared, Nicole.” Gus shot her a motherly smile. “Waverly told me what you two are doing.” Nicole wasn’t sure to be relieved or not that Gus knew what was really going on. The more people that knew the higher the chance of everything blowing up in their faces.
“Dinner would be great, Gus. We’re both free Tuesday night, right babe?” The term of affection just slipped out of Nicole’s mouth, but if anyone else noticed it they didn’t bring it up. The three of them made arrangements for the girls to go over to the ranch Tuesday night. Gus extended the offer to Wynonna too, but it was painfully obvious it was just as an afterthought. Wynonna turned her down, making some wise crack about washing her hair that night.
As the night wound down the bar started to empty, until Nicole and the Earps were the only ones left. Gus was closing up and had let them stay for another drink after everyone else had been kicked out. “Okay, I’m locking up now. Wynonna, you can take the bed upstairs or I can drop you off at home.”
“I’ll take the bed. ‘Night all.” Said Wynonna. She hugged Waverly and Nicole in turn before heading behind the bar and up to the apartment upstairs. Waverly and Nicole walked out with Gus.
“Do you girls want a ride?” Gus offered. It had been snowing again and the air was so crisp that they could see their breaths in front of them.
“That’s okay, we’re not far.” Waverly hugged her aunt goodbye and slipped her arm through Nicole’s. They walked the few blocks to their apartment arm in arm in a comfortable silence. It was freezing out, but Nicole felt a certain warmth from the booze in her belly and the girl by her side.
Still, she couldn’t wait to get home. She’d cranked the thermostat up a notch before they’d left, anticipating more snow and a drop in the temperature that night. The apartment would be nice and cozy. Nicole would make them hot chocolate and they would crawl into bed and-
The deputy was ripped from her daydreaming as Waverly let out a squeal of excited laughter and pulled away from her. They were across the street from their building, standing in front of a verge of snow that had built up on the sidewalk. Nicole’s eyes widened as the other woman lay down backward in it. “Waverly! Get up, you’re going to freeze!”
“I haven’t done this in years.” Waverly giggled as she spread her arms and legs out, sweeping aside large arcs of snow to make an angel shape on the ground. Nicole felt a surge of warmth in her chest at the sight of the younger girl playing in the snow. She looked so content.
Nicole hated to spoil her fun, but the cop in her couldn’t keep quiet for long. “Sweetie, you’re drunk and it’s below freezing. Let’s get you home and dried off before you turn in to a human-Popsicle.” She reached out to help her back up.
Waverly reached up for the offered hand, but instead of using it stand she yanked hard, pulling Nicole off balance. The deputy crashed down on top of her, only just managing to put her hands out to break her fall.
She started to glare at Waverly, but she couldn’t keep it up. Pinned beneath her, Waverly was giggling. Her eyes were alight with amusement, her cheeks were flushed with the cold, and her hair was splayed around her head like a halo. She looked breathtaking.
Nicole couldn’t help herself.
Leaning down, she pressed a single kiss to Waverly’s lips. Then another. Waverly arched up underneath her and suddenly they were kissing frantically in the snow. Waverly reached up, her hands tangling in Nicole’s hair as she pulled her in closer.
Nicole jumped back as she heard the wail of a police siren. One of the squad cars had pulled up alongside them and set the siren off. “Jesus, Frank!” Nicole snapped at the man behind the wheel; a bald guy with a pot belly and a bushy red beard. “Sorry, Haught. I thought you two were a couple of kids up to no good.” His smirk implied his impression of them hadn’t changed.
Nicole glared at him as she helped Waverly back up to her feet. The back of her coat was soaking wet from the snow. “Hi, Frank.” She waved at the other deputy. She recognized him from around the station.
“Hey, Waverly. What are you two girls doing out this late? It’s freezing. Don’t you have a home to go to?”
“We do, officer. We just got… sidetracked.” Waverly chuckled. Taking hold of Nicole’s hand she gave it a little tug. “I promise I’ll get this one straight to bed.”
“See that you do.” Frank tipped his hat to them before driving off, his tires crunching in the freshly fallen snow.
“Good job you spotted him coming. We’re definitely selling this whole couple thing.” Waverly smiled awkwardly, thinking that Nicole had spotted Frank in his cruiser before she’d kissed her.
“Yeah… Good job.” She sighed. “End of the month’s coming up. I’m sure you’ll be glad when this is all over.”
“The end of the month? Are you sure that’s the best time to fake our breakup? I mean, it’s a little suspicious. You have the place for a month and then you’re single? Mrs. Thompson will see right through that.”
“Do you think we should keep it up a little longer?” Asked Nicole, a lilt of something close to hope in her voice.
“Well yeah. Maybe at least another month… just so it doesn’t look too suspicious, right?”
“Right. A month… at least. That’s if you’re okay with this.”
“I’m fine.” Said Waverly. “I’m totally fine with it. what are friends for?”
The two women made their way up to their apartment, where it was warm and dry. Nicole made hot chocolate while Waverly stripped out of her wet clothes and got changed for bed. She was already under the covers by the time Nicole walked in. She was only carrying one mug and she placed it on the side table by Waverly’s side of the bed. “Aren’t you having some?”
“Yeah. Mine’s still on the counter… I’m going to sleep on the couch tonight. I’m on early tomorrow and I don’t want to wake you.”
“I don’t mind,” Waverly said, but Nicole insisted. She had already slipped up and kissed Waverly, she didn’t want to run the risk of sharing a bed with her. She pressed a kiss to Waverly’s forehead before saying goodnight and slipping back out of the room.
The couch was even more uncomfortable than Nicole remembered. She tossed and turned for nearly an hour before she managed to drift off into a fitful sleep. She was jarred awake again sometime around 3 am. Her phone was lit up and vibrating on the coffee table. Expecting it to be work, Nicole answered gruffly with, “Haught.”
The voice on the other end of the phone wasn’t anyone from the station. Nicole sat up abruptly, pushing aside the blankets she’d slept under. “Speaking. Oh my god, is she okay? Yes… No. I’m not in the city right now… it’ll take me a few hours. Okay. Thank you, Doctor.”
The second Nicole hung up she was pulling on the previous night’s clothes. She grabbed her car keys and was out the door without a second thought. She’d call Waverly in the morning and let her know what was going on.
“Haught must be feeling rough if she didn’t turn in this morning.” Wynonna cracked before Waverly even had a chance to shrug her jacket off. They were in the Black Badge offices near the back of the station. Waverly had already walked around the station looking for Nicole. She’d been gone before the younger girl woke up.
“What are you talking about? She left for work this morning… Didn’t she?”
“Uh…” Wynonna pulled a face like she’d just stepped in something particularly vile. “I haven’t seen her. I thought she was playing hooky. Waves?” Waverly turned face and practically ran back out the door. She found Nedley walking down the corridor towards his office, a cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other.
“Did Nicole come in today?”
“Good morning, Waverly.” Nedley sighed. He either missed or ignored the sense of urgency in her question. “No. She didn’t. Something about a family emergency and needing to go off to the city. I’d have thought you’d be the first person to know.” The sheriff narrowed his bushy eyebrows at the young woman. Trust Nedley to decide to start being a cop at the absolute worst time.
“She was gone before I woke up.” Said Waverly, trying to backpedal. “She probably left a note or something. I must have missed it.” She retreated to an empty office and pulled out her phone to call Nicole. It went straight to voice-mail. Waverly waited for Nicole’s prerecorded message to finish playing.
“Hey, it’s me. Waverly… Earp. I’m at the station. Nedley said you didn’t come in today, something about a family emergency? I hope everything is okay… Call me back when you get a chance?” She hung up, feeling like an idiot. Sure she and Nicole weren’t actually dating, but they were living together. It would have been nice for Nicole to let her know she was going out of town.
Nicole hated hospitals. From the overpowering stench of bleach to the overbearing fluorescent lighting and the mournful mood of the places. She hated everything about them. Sitting by the bedside of her ex-fiancee, she wished to be anywhere else.
It was early afternoon and Nicole’s hangover had kicked in with a vengeance. She really ought to have learned her lesson when it came to drinking with the Earps. With less than a few hours of sleep, an empty stomach and a raging headache, Nicole Haught felt like death warmed up.
A wave of guilt hit her as she glanced at the sleeping figure in the hospital bed. There she was feeling sorry for herself over a hangover when a woman she had once claimed to love was lying there battered and bruised.
Meagan’s car had been involved in a head-on-collision with a drunk driver. The perp had walked away with little more than a concussion, while Megan had been wedged between her seat and the steering wheel. It had taken forty minutes for the fire brigade to cut her free.
She still hadn’t woken up.
Doctors and nurses had come and gone all morning, updating Nicole on the other woman’s condition or simply offering their sympathies. Meagan had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital she worked at. She was a popular consultant and half the hospital seemed to have dropped by to check on her.
Nicole felt like a fraud sitting there at Meagan’s bedside with her friends and colleagues trying to comfort her. They had been over long before Nicole walked out. The only reason she had been called at all was due to the other woman forgetting to update the contact details of her next of kin.
Her parents were dead, but she had a brother who lived down in Montana. Nicole had called him earlier to let him know what had happened and he was driving up. It would still be hours before he got there, so Nicole had stayed. No matter what had happened between them, Meagan deserved better than to wake up alone and scared in a hospital room.
Nicole glanced down at her watch and realized just how late it was. She had meant to call Waverly hours ago. She’d called the station on her drive over to the city, but hadn’t wanted to disturb the younger woman until a more sensible hour. The morning had completely escaped her, though. Waverly would probably be worrying.
“Crap,” Nicole muttered softly as she pulled her phone out and found a missed call from Waverly. She’d switched it to silent earlier. Her finger was hovering over the call button when a strained voice sounded beside her.
The deputy jumped, her phone dropping to the floor with a clatter. She bolted forward as Meagan tried to sit up. “Whoa, easy. Just lay down. You’re at the hospital.”
“What… what are you doing here?”
“They called me. You haven’t changed your emergency contact yet.”
“My head hurts…” Meagan was looking up at her but seemed to be looking right past Nicole. Her pupils were blown, making her bottomless brown eyes seem almost black. “Everything hurts.”
“You hit your head. You’ve got a concussion. You were in a car crash.” Nicole said, trying to reassure her. Meagan didn’t seem to see her at all as she carried on looking around the room, a bewildered look on her face. Her eyes had an abnormal dullness to them, and her breathing was coming out in short sharp rasps.
“Meagan?” Nicole reached out to take her hand. The other woman usually ran like a furnace, but she was cool to the touch. Her skin - normally a rich brown in color - seemed to have a gray tint to it, and was clammy to the touch. Something wasn’t right. “Megs?” Her eyes suddenly rolled to the back of her head as her blood pressure plummeted. The heart monitor began screeching in protest.
Nicole had barely reached the door to go for help when it burst open and more doctors and nurses flooded into the room. “She woke up, she was talking and-” Nicole tried to tell them what had happened, but she was being ushered out of the room by a nurse that could easily have been a linebacker in a previous life.
The door had barely closed on her when it was flung open again and Meagan’s bed was wheeled out, accompanied by the group of medical professionals as they rushed her off down the corridor. Nicole grabbed the last nurse on her way out by the arm as she walked past. “Where are they taking her? What’s going on?”
She looked barely old enough to be out of high school. Her eyes were wide as saucers, and Nicole realized she’d been a bit overzealous in grabbing her. “I’m sorry.” She dropped the nurse’s arm and took a step back, giving the young woman her space back. “I just, I don’t know what happened. She was awake, she was talking to me and then…” Nicole shook her head, panic washing over her and tightening her chest.
“They’re taking her down to surgery. It looks like she might have some internal bleeding- She’s in safe hands.” The young woman added quickly, seeing the color drain from Nicole’s already pallid cheeks. “Wait inside and I’ll make sure you’re told the second Dr. Dunham comes out of surgery.”
Nicole’s shoulders slumped as she trudged back into the private room. The space looked vast and empty without the bed in it. It had been wheeled out with Meagan on it, and straight over Nicole’s phone. She bent to pick it up. The screen was cracked and it refused to turn on, no matter how many times she jabbed the power button. “Great.” Nicole sighed. “That’s just great.”
“Hey, it’s me again. I’m just checking in… I hope everything is okay. Call me when you get a chance?” Waverly was starting to feel like a stalker as she left her third message of the day for Nicole. She’d been trying to get hold of the other woman, but her phone had just gone straight through to voice-mail.
Waverly had worked the afternoon shift at Shorty’s. She’d checked her own phone almost every other minute in case Nicole had tried to contact her. She’d slipped from concern to anger and then back to concern again. Nicole had taken off in the middle of the night. What if she’d never arrived in the city? What if she was lying in a ditch somewhere?
Waverly’s stomach was in knots.
She slipped inside the apartment they shared and was greeted by the cat. It skulked around her legs, mewling with its tail in the air. The last thing she needed to deal with was Nicole’s psycho cat. “Not now, Flo.” Waverly tried brushing it off, but the cat stuck to her like glue, still mewling and crying. Walking into the kitchen and past the empty food bowl on the floor, she finally figured out what was wrong.
“You’re hungry? Okay. I can fix that.” It took a while for her to find the cat food; some specialty organic stuff that probably cost more for a bag than Waverly spent on food in a week. It wasn’t any wonder that the damn cat was so stuck up. Nicole pampered it. Waverly fixed herself a simple sandwich for dinner and took a seat on the couch.
The apartment had always seemed small and cozy to Waverly, but without Nicole there it suddenly felt vast and empty. The comforter they’d been using to sleep on the couch was still lying on the back of it. She pulled it down and wrapped herself up in it. It still held Nicole’s smell.
It had been a long day. Between battling a hangover and worrying over Nicole, Waverly was exhausted. She felt her eyes closing over. They snapped open as something jumped up on her lap, and she found herself staring down the cat. “Nice kitty…” Wary that the thing would probably rip her face off if given half a chance, Waverly gingerly tried to shoo it away with her hand.
Flora wouldn’t budge. She turned in a circle three times before settling down on top of the comforter. The cat had never sat on her before. She hadn’t even approached Waverly to be stroked, so it was a shock when she lay down on her and started butting Waverly’s hand with her nose in an attempt to be petted.
“Seriously? One meal and you’re anyone’s, huh?” She scratched behind her ear, shaking her head at the fickle cat. “You missing your mommy, huh? I miss her too.”
“Nic.” The man who walked through the door of Meagan’s hospital room could have easily passed for an NFL linebacker. Although he was a former marine, he was a gentle giant at heart. Clive Dunham scooped Nicole up in a crushing hug, his massive hands squeezing her shoulders. “How is she?”
“She got out of surgery an hour ago. She still hasn’t woken up.” Nicole had already updated Meagan’s brother on her condition using one of the nurse’s phones. They’d stopped the bleeding and replaced what she’d lost. It was just a waiting game for her to wake up.
“And you? How are you holding up? You look like shit.”
“Thanks, Clive,” Nicole said with a roll of her eyes. She had always been close to Meagan’s brother. Even after he’d moved down to Montana she and Meagan had made the trip to see Clive and his family at least one weekend a month. They hadn’t spoken since Nicole had moved to Purgatory. She hadn’t been sure what to expect from him.
“You know I’m just teasing. That’s what brothers do to their baby sister’s.”
“No matter what went down between you and Meagan, you’re still family. Donna and the kids would love to see you, and you’re welcome anytime.”
“Thank you.” Nicole nodded, squeezing him back before letting him go. She pushed her hair back from her face and let out a sigh. It was close to midnight and she’d spent most of the day cooked up in the tiny hospital room. She was starting to get cabin fever. “I was thinking of getting a hotel nearby and getting some sleep. If you’re okay to stay here with her tonight? I can come back in the morning and-”
“You don’t have to stay.” Clive pointed out. “I’m here now. You can go.” He had his arms crossed over his chest as he stared Nicole down, knowing her all too well.
“No. I can’t. Not until I know she’s okay.”
“You’re one of the good ones, Haught. Here.” He handed her a set of keys with a little blue dolphin key-chain on. Nicole recognized it from their trip to Florida last year. “It’s the spare key. Same address, a couple of blocks from the hospital. You won’t find a hotel closer. Not at this time of night.”
She knew he was right, but that didn’t make the thought of going home any easier. “Fine.” She snatched the keys from him begrudgingly. “My phone’s broke. Call the house if anything changes.”
The drive over was short and sweet. Nicole sat outside in her truck for close to twenty minutes, just staring up at the place she had called home for nearly three years. The porch light on the left was still out. Nicole had promised to fix that. She’d promised a lot of things.
Dragging herself out of the truck she climbed up a couple of steps to the porch and put the key in the lock. She had to jiggle it a couple of times before it popped open.
Inside, the hallway still had the smell of those scented candles that Meagan loved so much. Nicole couldn’t stand them. She slipped off her jacket and hung it on the post at the bottom of the stairs; something she had gotten wrong for all the time when she had still lived there.
Nicole walked into the kitchen and it seemed like nothing had changed in all the time she had been gone. She could shut the rest of the world out and just pretend that the last six months hadn’t happened. That she had never left. It would almost be easy. Except for one thing.
She picked up the cordless phone from the kitchen counter and dialed Waverly’s number. She had memorized it after staring at the number in her phone countless times after Waverly had given her it, trying to sum up the courage to actually call or text.
The phone rang a few times before going to her voice-mail. Nicole let out a long frustrated sigh. She would have given anything right then and there to talk to her. Maybe it was a good thing she didn’t pick up. Nicole wasn’t quite sure she could trust herself not to say something stupid. She listened to Waverly’s overly cheery greeting before leaving a message.
“Hey, Waves. I’m sorry it’s late, I meant to call earlier... My phone is broke. I uh, a friend of mine was in a car accident. She’s okay but I’m probably going to stay a few more days. Can you take care of Flora for me? If she’s too much for you then drop her off with Nedley. He won’t mind. I’m going to get a new phone tomorrow, so I’ll call you. If you need me for anything before that, just call back on this number… Okay? I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
After she hung up Nicole headed upstairs. She ignored the open bedroom door and went to the linen closet at the end of the hall. They’d always kept spare pillows and blankets in there for when they had guests over. She made up a bed for herself on the couch. It didn’t seem right to sleep upstairs in the bed she had once shared with her ex.
Nicole stripped down to her t-shirt and her underwear before lying down and pulling the blanket over her. The couch was large enough for her to stretch out on. They’d picked it out in the store specifically for that reason. With a cop and a surgeon living in the same house their sleeping patterns rarely matched.
Towards the end of their relationship, Nicole had spent more nights on the couch than she had in their bed. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to sleep on but, after the day and night she’d had, Nicole could have probably fallen asleep on any vaguely horizontal surface. She managed three hours of solid sleep before the phone woke her up.
She jumped at the sound of the shrill ringing, her hand blindly searching the side table next to the couch for the cordless phone. “Hello?” She answered gruffly, her voice thick with exhaustion.
“Hey, it’s me. Meagan’s awake.” Clive said. He sounded just as tired as Nicole felt. “She’s doing okay. If you want to come by in the morning-”
“I’m on my way.” Nicole kicked the blanket away and swung her legs down onto the tiled floor.
“Nobody expects you to come right now. I just thought you’d want to know.”
“Clive, I’ll be right there. Okay?”
“Okay. I’ll see you soon. Drive carefully.”
“I always do.”
Nicole got up and splashed some water on her face to try and wake herself up properly before she pulled on her clothes and headed back to the hospital. It was the middle of the night and the city streets were practically deserted. Nicole turned the radio on and cracked the window in an effort to keep her eyes open and her focus on the road.
The drive over to the hospital wasn’t a very long one. Nicole pulled up in the parking lot less than ten minutes after she’d hung up on Clive. He was waiting outside the main entrance for her, standing smoking a cigarette. “I thought you quit.” He rolled his eyes at her as he took a long draw.
“I did. I told Meagan I was coming down for a coffee.”
Nicole went up on her own, leaving Clive to finish smoking. She had a feeling he would be down there a while, giving her and Meagan some space.
Despite the early hour, the hospital was still a hive of activity. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, and patients were milling around the hallways like ants in a colony. Every one of them had somewhere to be and seemed to be in a hurry to get there.
Nicole took her time. She dragged her feet like she was walking to her own execution; even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Her calves were on fire by the time she reached the fifth floor.
Meagan was propped up on two overstuffed pillows when Nicole walked into her hospital room. Her eyes were closed over, making the other woman pause. Nicole didn’t want to wake her if she was resting. She turned around to walk out again.
“Leaving already?” She paused in her tracks. Meagan was awake. Her eyes were barely open, but she was conscious.
“I thought you were still sleeping.”
“Resting my eyes. Feels like I was hit by a truck.” The other woman sighed. Her voice was still hoarse and scratchy.
“I think it was actually an SUV.” Nicole corrected her.
“Much better.” Meagan forced a laugh and then winced. “Broken ribs suck.” The morphine was taking the edge off, but she was still in pain.
“Do you want me to call someone? A nurse, or-”
“A doctor?” She managed a smirk at Nicole’s expense. With a grunt and a few choice words, Meagan shifted so she was sitting up a little against the pillows. “I’m okay… and thanks. For coming. I’ll change my next of kin with HR in the morning.”
“It’s fine.” Nicole shrugged. “I’m closer than Clive anyway.” An awkward silence settled over them. It reminded Nicole of their last few months of living together.
She had tried to make it work between them, but the silence had only grown more and more each day. It had grown into a bottomless void, which had threatened to swallow them both whole. Walking away hadn’t just been for the best, it was Nicole’s only option, or at least that’s what she’d told herself at the time.
“Hey, Waves. I’m sorry it’s late, I meant to call earlier... My phone is broke. I uh, a friend of mine was in a car accident…”
The message on the answer phone played through for the third time as Waverly hovered uncertainly over the phone. She’d woken up to find the little red light blinking off and on at her. Nicole had been AWOL for over a full day. While the message went some way to easing Waverly’s concerns for her, it didn’t completely erase the nagging need in the pit of her stomach. She wanted desperately just to be able to talk to Nicole. To hear her voice and ask her how she was doing.
She got the caller ID from the screen on the handset and dialed the last number to call. Waverly’s heart was racing as the phone on the other end rang and rang. It was still early. Maybe Nicole was still sleeping. There was a click as the answering machine on Nicole’s end picked up. ‘Hey, it’s Meagan. I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave a message, call my cell or try me at the hospital.’
Waverly’s heart sunk. Meagan. Nicole’s ex. The woman she’d lived with up until six months ago. Meagan the doctor from Calgary. Nicole wasn’t seeing to a sick friend. She’d gone to Calgary to see her ex-fiancee, and she’d lied about it.
“What’s up with your face?” Wynonna greeted her sister with a frown. “You look like someone ran over your puppy… Wait, did someone run over Haught?” The younger Earp just glared at her as she carried on making tea. She’d been in a strop all day and Wynonna was determined to get to the bottom of it. “Seriously, Waves. What’s going on?”
Waverly finally stopped and turned around to face her sister. They were at the station, though the break room was empty save for the two of them. “Nicole called me last night. She left a message, said a friend of hers was in an accident and that she was taking a few days to look after her.”
“Okay. Well, that’s good. Right?” Asked Wynonna. As close as she and Waverly had grown since Wynonna had made her return, there was still a lot of lost time between them. Wynonna couldn’t always read her little sister’s mood as well as she would have liked. Waverly was quiet and deep. She kept things to herself; unlike Wynonna, who just tended to get drunk and let it all out.
“I called her back.” Said Waverly. “I just wanted to check in… She called from her friend’s phone…”
“And her ‘friend’ is actually her ex-fiancee.”
It was dark when Nicole pulled up into her space outside of the apartment she shared with Waverly. She’d left Calgary for Purgatory a few hours ago, as soon as she’d talked Meagan out of discharging herself. The doctor had been intent on going home, but Nicole and Clive had managed to talk to some sense into her.
Nicole checked in with the hospital again before heading inside. Meagan was still there. She was sleeping, so Nicole left a message with a nurse and hung up. It wasn’t that late, but the lights in most of the windows in the apartment building were out; including the apartment she shared with Waverly. Nicole couldn’t remember if the other girl was working late or not.
She climbed the stairs in half the time it took her when Waverly was with her. After almost two days spent cooped up in the hospital, it was nice to be able to stretch her legs.
Stepping into her apartment she switched on the light in the hallway and kicked off her shoes. The living room was empty. Neither Waverly nor Nicole’s cat was there to greet her. She quietly slipped through each room in search of the cat. A small part of her worried that Waverly might have let her out. She’d searched the full apartment bar the bedroom.
Nudging the door open a crack she peered inside the darkened room. The shape under the covers was definitely Waverly, and the lump lying beside her head was Flora. The tabby cat was curled up on her side, her head resting against Waverly’s cheek.
Nicole was momentarily taken aback. The cat had stopped sleeping in her room altogether since Waverly had moved in with her. She closed the door back over and left them to it. She padded into the kitchen and helped herself to one of the beers in the fridge. There were a lot less than there had been before she’d left, so there was a good chance Wynonna had been over.
She took a seat on the couch, pulling the comforter over her as she settled down and switched on the TV. Waverly was already sound asleep. She didn’t want to risk waking her by joining her in bed, so she’d take the couch for the night; even if she wanted nothing more than to climb into bed beside Waverly.
Nicole had missed her so much over the past couple of days. Not being around Waverly, not being able to speak to her, it had hurt more than Nicole had expected. She hadn’t realized quite how strong her feelings for Waverly were. Not until she’d had to leave her behind.
“Stupid cat,” Waverly grumbled, spitting out cat hair as she rolled on to her back. The damn thing hadn’t left her alone all night. She’d woken up with it practically lying on her face. Her first instinct was to call Nicole and tell her about it, but then she remembered her phone was still broken. Waverly let out a sigh. She had really missed having the other woman around the last couple of days.
Nicole wasn’t due home until later in the afternoon. Waverly had an evening shift at Shorty’s so she probably wouldn’t even see her until the early hours; that was if Nicole would even still be awake when she got home. It was going to be one, long, shitty day. She gave the cat one last begrudging stroke before she pushed back the covers and slipped out of bed.
Waverly stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a clatter come from the kitchen. It wasn’t the cat, which had followed Waverly out and was curling itself around one of her bare legs. She inched toward the closet hallway, quietly opened the door and wrapped her hand around Nicole’s hockey stick. It was almost as tall as she was.
Waverly held it with the blade up in the air and crept forward. If someone had broken in they’d chosen the wrong house. “Hands up, dirt-bag!” Over by the kitchen, Nicole jumped, hitting her head off an open cupboard door.
“Ow! Jesus, Waves!” The deputy rubbed at a spot on the top of her head as Waverly dropped the stick.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I thought you were robbing the place!” Waverly gingerly placed the stick down against the wall. “Are you okay?”
“I’ll live.” Nicole laughed it off. “You thought I was a home invader and you came in here armed with an old hockey stick?” She frowned at the other woman.
“I know how to handle myself. I am an Earp!” Waverly replied with a pout. She wasn’t some defenseless maiden. Even without her trusty shotgun, she could be a force to be reckoned with.
“Don’t I know it.” Huffed Nicole.
“What are you even doing here? You weren’t supposed to be getting back until tonight.” Waverly was happy to see her, she really was, but at the same time, she was still mad at Nicole for lying to her.
“I drove back last night.”
“Last night? Did you sleep on the couch? Why didn’t you come to bed?” Waverly was getting more vexed every time Nicole opened her mouth.
“It was late. I didn’t want to wake you.” Nicole’s frown deepened. She hadn’t been expecting to come back to an inquisition. She couldn’t figure out why Waverly was so mad at her. “I was going to make breakfast. Do you want waffles?”
“Actually, I have an early meeting with Black Badge. I don’t want to keep Wynonna and Dolls waiting.” Waverly couldn’t look the other woman in the eye as she lied to her and headed back into the bedroom they shared. She dressed quickly and headed out without much more than a ‘see you later’ directed at her roommate.
The police station was mostly empty, with the day shift not due in for another hour. Waverly slipped into the Black Badge offices at the back without having anyone ask her about Nicole.
“Morning.” Dolls nodded at her without taking his eyes off the report he was reading.
“Hey.” Waverly took a seat at the desk she had claimed for herself and began aimlessly moving books and pages of paper around, trying to appear busy.
Dolls wasn’t much of a conversationalist at the best of times, but he seemed extra quiet that morning. Maybe he had picked up on Waverly’s mood and decided it was best to leave her be. Barely a word passed between them before Wynonna rolled through the door around noon.
“You’re late. By three hours.” Said Dolls, giving his deputy his hallmark glare.
“So go find someone else to take out the Revenants… Oh, wait.” Wynonna shot him a smirk back. Dolls didn’t bother replying. He simply switched his attention back to his computer. Wynonna changed tracks too, focusing on her sour-faced little sister. “What’s up with you Baby-girl? Still missing Haught?”
“She’s back,” Waverly answered with a grumble. She’d spent most of the morning rereading the same passage in a dusty old book. She hadn’t been able to focus long enough to take any of the words in. Her sort-of-fight with Nicole was playing on repeat in her head.
“Tell that to your face.”
“She came back last night. Not that she bothered to tell me… She slept on the couch.”
“Ah.” Wynonna glanced over her shoulder at their boss. He didn’t appear to be listening, but she knew better. “Okay. Lunch break.”
“Nonna, you just-”
Despite Waverly’s objections, Wynonna manhandled her out of the station and into the diner down the street. The two sisters slipped into a booth near the back. “Okay, spill.” Wynonna glared long and hard at her little sister. “What’s going on? I thought you’d be doing cartwheels to have Nicole back.”
Waverly shrugged her shoulders, looking exactly how she used to when she was six years old and giving Wynonna the silent treatment for cutting off the hair of one of her Barbie dolls. “So, when you said she didn’t come to bed last night… have you two been… I mean are you guys doing it?”
“Seriously Nonna?” She deadpanned, her glare intensifying.
“No! We’re not doing it!” She hissed in a whisper, not wanting to be overheard by the waitress who was approaching to take their order. She waited until they were alone again to explain. “We’ve been sharing the bed for a couple of weeks. Nothing has happened.”
“But you want it to. Am I right?” The older Earp grinned. She hadn’t let up since Waverly had admitted she might be attracted to the other woman.
“She went to the city for her ex, Wynonna! And she lied to me about it! It’s not like she just went off for some girl she used to date either! They were living together! They were engaged! What if Nicole decides she made a mistake moving here? What if she wants to go back to the city?”
“Then you ask her to stay,” Wynonna said it like it was the easiest thing in the world. Like Waverly could just walk up to Nicole and tell her how she felt in the hope of getting her to stay.
“I can’t ask her to do that.” Waverly sighed. “I don’t even know I feel about her. How can I ask her to turn her back on a chance at being happy, for something maybe happening between us?”
Reaching across the table Wynonna placed her hands over her sister’s and looked her square in the eyes with a patient and loving smile. “Waves, you’re the smartest person I know; but sometimes you can be a real dummy. You’re going crazy over the chance that Nicole might get back with her ex. That right there tells me that you already know how you feel… So just put everyone out of their misery and tell her already!”
Waverly bit her lip, looking guiltily over at the server as she approached their table with two plates. “Go. I’ve got this. Just leave me a twenty.” Wynonna didn’t need to tell her twice. Waverly pulled two bills out of her purse and tossed them on the table for her.
“Thanks. I love you.” She pressed a kiss to the side of her cheek before making a beeline for the door. Wynonna was right. She needed to talk to Nicole. Whatever was going on with Nicole and her ex, Waverly needed to state her own case. She had to tell Nicole how she felt.
The walk home to the apartment passed by in a blur. It felt like she was just setting foot out of the diner one minute and then she was standing at her front door the next.
She could hear music coming from inside the apartment. Waverly walked through the door and found her in the kitchen. She was at the counter chopping something, her hips swaying to the music playing on the radio as she softly sang along.
Waverly stood transfixed, a smile creeping across her face as Nicole’s singing grew louder. She had a pretty decent singing voice. “Can you pass me the grater?” Waverly jumped as Nicole casually tossed the question over her shoulder without looking up. She’d clearly heard the other woman come in.
Waverly stood rooted to the spot, her mouth hanging open. “What?” Nicole finally turned, wearing an amused smirk on her lips. “I’m a cop, remember? We’re generally observant.”
“And you’re making dinner… after I was a complete ass this morning.” Waverly’s guts felt all twisted up with guilt. She had been horrible to Nicole earlier, and yet there she was making her dinner.
“You weren’t an ass. You were in a rush, I get it-”
“No. No, I wasn’t.” Waverly interrupted before Nicole could make excuses for her. “I didn’t have a meeting this morning. I was mad at you and I lied so I could leave.”
“Oh.” Nicole’s expression was unreadable. “That’s okay. I should have called and let you know I was coming back early-”
“Stop doing that!” Snapped Waverly. Somehow her apology had turned in to her shouting at the other woman.
“Stop doing what?” Once again the younger woman had Nicole confused. She’d been on the back-foot with Waverly ever since she’d gotten back.
“Stop being so nice to me! Stop being so understanding and just shout at me! Call me a selfish asshole!”
“Waverly, you’re not remotely selfish.” Nicole was having none of it. “You’re the nicest, sweetest, person I have ever met. If you were mad at me you must have had a good reason… To be honest I should be the one apologizing… I lied first. I didn’t go to the city to see a friend. It was Meagan, my ex.” Nicole admitted, much to Waverly’s surprise.
It was her turn, to be honest. To both Nicole and herself.
“I know… I called you back the other day and I got her answer phone. That’s why I was mad at you this morning.” It felt stupid to admit it out loud.
“You did? Why? I mean, why were you mad, not why did you call.”
“Because…” Waverly started, but the words got caught up in her throat. She couldn’t say it. She wasn’t ready to say it out loud yet.
Waverly lunged forward, crashing her lips into Nicole’s hard enough to make them both stumble back a couple of steps. Nicole’s first reaction was to bring her hands up to the other girl’s hips. Waverly almost expected her to push her away, but she didn’t. Nicole pulled her in close so that their bodies were pressed flush together and she started to kiss her back.
It wasn’t their first kiss. Not by a long-shot. It was their first without an audience though. It was just the two of them. They weren’t putting on a show for anybody else. Waverly Earp was kissing her for real and Nicole felt like she was about to explode with happiness. What had initially started as a hesitant kiss soon turned in to something far more insistent and heated. Waverly let out a small gasp as Nicole’s hands found themselves under the hem of her shirt. “Sorry.” Nicole was breathless as she wrenched her hands away, letting them hover cautiously over the other woman’s hips without actually touching her. “Sorry, I… We should maybe talk about this.”
“Definitely.” Waverly nodded hastily in agreement. “We should definitely talk… Later.” Waverly hooked her finger into the neckline of Nicole’s shirt and tugged her close again, knocking her off balance and reclaiming her lips. Nicole’s objections were non-existent, her hands quickly settling back on Waverly’s hips like it was the most natural place in the world for them to be.
“We should maybe talk now.” Suggested Nicole. Her voice was low, little more than a whisper; like she was scared to speak too loud and burst whatever bubble she and Waverly had found themselves in. Nicole was lying on her back on the couch, with the smaller girl on top of her. They had somehow made it out of the kitchen and over to the couch once they’d started to kiss a second time. That had been an hour ago.
While the kissing had petered off, they were still lying tangled up together fairly intimately. Waverly’s head was resting on Nicole’s chest and one of her legs had managed to slip between Nicole’s thighs. It was taking everything she had not to switch their positions, but Nicole was trying her best to let Waverly take the lead.
She had been shaking when she’d pushed Nicole down on to the couch and climbed on to her lap. Nicole had wrapped her arms around her and held her close. With their noses pressed together, she had told Waverly it was okay if she wanted to stop. It would kill her, but she would stop and walk away if that’s what Waverly wanted.
“Later.” Waverly huffed out. Her lips were right at Nicole’s ear. The little puff of air that she let out had the other woman shivering.
“You said that an hour ago.” Nicole chuckled softly. She bit back a grunt as Waverly shifted so that she was looking down at her, her knees pressing more firmly against the couch as she used her arms to hold herself up.
“I know, but I can think of much better things to do with my mouth than talk.” The youngest Earp wore a devilish smile as she lay back down, bringing her lips to Nicole’s. The kiss started out tentative but soon grew more intense as Waverly ran her tongue across Nicole’s bottom lip.
This was why they had stopped kissing in the first place. Nicole was only human. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to control herself with Waverly Earp’s tongue in her mouth and her knee pressed between her legs.“Waves…”
“I know.” Sighed Waverly. She looked just as flustered as Nicole felt as she sat up and scooted to the other side of the couch.
“You didn’t have to go all the way over there.” Nicole wore an adorable frown in response to losing the other woman’s touch altogether.
“Yeah, I do. We’re not going to get anywhere with me lying on top of you.” Waverly pointed out. Nicole begged to differ. They could get pretty far - even further if Nicole was on top - but she knew Waverly was right.
They needed to talk about things before they fell any further down the rabbit hole. “Right.” Nicole nodded. Pushing her hair back from her face, she followed Waverly’s example and sat up on her side of the couch. She drew her knees up to her chest, not wanting to run the risk of touching her at all.
Waverly started. “I think I might be kind of gay.”
“No shit.” Nicole barked out a laugh but quickly stifled it. Waverly was obviously still coming to terms with her sexuality. That much had been painfully clear to Nicole from their first meeting.
“Sorry.” She apologized sheepishly. “I thought you might be into women that first day I met you at the bar… Well, I hoped you were. I’d seen you around town a few times before that. It took me weeks to get up the courage to come into Shorty’s and talk to you.”
“It did?” Waverly asked. Her smile lit up her whole face. It had been the first thing Nicole had noticed about her.
“Yes, ma’am.” Nicole nodded, wearing a stupid grin of her own. “I’m sure glad I did, though.”
“Me too.” Waverly had initially been taken aback by Nicole’s flirting. The other woman’s confidence had intimidated her. Nicole had seemed so sure of herself like she had her who life totally figured out. She knew who she was and what she wanted, and Waverly couldn’t have felt any more different. Not until she’d moved in with Nicole. She knew what she wanted now. Who she wanted.
Life wasn’t that simple though.
“All of this is still new to me. I didn’t want to tell you how I felt about you until I knew how I felt about you… but then you went off to see your ex and I got jealous, and I missed you and the thought of losing you-”
“Hey.” Nicole broke their no-touching rule as she leaned forward and took hold of one of Waverly’s hands in her own. “I’m here. For as long as you want me to be. I’m not going anywhere.” She squeezed Waverly’s hand lightly and the younger woman returned the gesture.
“I want you to be.”
“That’s quitting time. You want to go grab a beer at Shorty’s?” Wynonna stood up and stretched out, raising her hands up above her head.
“You only came in four hours ago, Earp. Plus, you took an hour’s lunch.” Dolls rolled his eyes at his partner. Wynonna had come back from the diner minus Waverly and full of gossip.
“It’s not my fault things have been quiet on the supernatural front.” Wynonna shrugged. “Bobo and his cronies must be having trouble scraping their two brain cells together to come up with something.”
“I don’t like it. It’s been too quiet. We’ve almost taken out the seven and-”
“We?” Wynonna cocked her eyebrow at him smugly. “I’m sorry, how many of the seven did you shoot?”
“I’m just saying we should be on our toes. Bobo and the rest of the seven are still out there.”
“Yeah? Well, they can just get in line, because I’m going to be sending every one of those A-holes back to hell where they belong. You coming, or are you going to make a lady drink alone?”
“No ma’am.” Dolls chuckled. He pulled on his jacket and held the door open for Wynonna. “After you, Earp.”
“Think I should call Waves and see if she and Haught-”
“Jesus, Dolls! it was just a suggestion.”
“You leave them be.” Dolls ushered her out of the Black Badge offices, waggling his finger at her. It had taken them both long enough to come around, the last thing they needed was Wynonna interrupting them.
“Fine! Fine!” Wynonna threw her hands up in defeat. “Haught’s got tonight, after that she is getting The Talk.”
“Yeah, the ‘you hurt my little sister and I’ll rip your spleen out through your nostrils’ talk.”
“Little late for that, ain’t it?” Wynonna jumped as Nedley’s gruff voice came from behind her. It was happy hour at Shorty’s, and the sheriff was on his way over.
“I like to threaten Haught weekly, keeps it fresh in her mind.” Wynonna didn’t miss a beat in answering, Dolls had to give her that.
“Huh.” Nedley stared the older Earp down, like every word out of her mouth was suspect. “You two headed on over to the bar?”
“Careful, Nedley. That almost sounded like an invite. You buying the first round?” Wynonna took great pleasure in the vein bulging at the side of the sheriff’s temple.
“Don’t push your luck, Earp.”
“Sweetie, it’s late. You should go to bed.” Nicole woke the sleeping girl lying beside her. They’d spent the evening cuddled up together on the couch, ignoring the television they had playing in the background. Waverly had been dozing off for the better part of an hour.
“Huh? Oh. Okay.” Waverly let out a long yawn as she sat up. She rubbed her eyes. “Are you coming too? To sleep, I mean. Are you coming to bed to sleep?” Nicole had actually planned on spending the night on the couch. She hadn’t wanted to make Waverly feel pressured into anything. They were both on uncharted ground, Waverly even more so.
“Okay.” Nicole agreed. She took Waverly’s outstretched hand and followed her into the bedroom. It felt like it had been forever since they’d last shared a bed together. Waverly went into the bathroom to change, while Nicole changed in the bedroom.
She was already under the covers by the time Waverly padded barefoot out of the bathroom. She slipped into bed beside the other woman and pressed a chaste kiss to her cheek. “Goodnight.”
“So this is awkward…” Waverly sighed out after a few minutes. The two women were lying side-by-side, ramrod straight, and as stiff as boards.
“Yeah.” Nicole let out a shaky laugh in reply. “It kind of is.” She turned on her side, propping her head up on one hand. Waverly did the same, some of the tension easing between them.
“It’s not like this is the first time we’ve done this, though.” Waverly pointed out, lacing the fingers of their free hand together.
“Yeah, but… You know. It’s like for real now.” Nicole blushed. She sounded like a lovesick teen even to her own ears.
“For real?” Waverly giggled, earning a playful scowl from the other woman.
“Don’t tease me, Waves.”
“I wasn’t! If I were teasing you, I’d probably be doing something like this…” Waverly bit down on her lip as she surged forward, pressing her lips to Nicole’s.
Nicole was about to point out that there wasn’t anything particularly teasing about kissing her until Waverly shifted so she was on top of her again. It was a bold move and it came right out of left field as far as Nicole was concerned. Their no touching rule had definitely gone out the window.
“That… is definitely you teasing me.” Nicole sighed as Waverly pulled away. She sat up, straddling Nicole’s hips. The younger woman looked quite proud of herself for the reaction she had elicited. Waverly wasn’t naive. She had known from the first moment Nicole had walked into Shorty’s that she’d been flirting with her. She’d been flattered, if a little surprised, but it hadn’t been anything new.
Purgatory’s nicest resident was used to people flirting with her; well, guys anyway. What she wasn’t used to was being looked at the way Nicole would look at her, like she was almost something mythical. “I like you.” Waverly blurted out. Nicole started to reply, but she cut her off. “I know that’s pretty obvious at this point, but I just realized I hadn’t said it, like out loud… So this is me saying it: I like you. A lot… In a gay way.”
Nicole snorted out a laugh and Waverly socked her playfully on the arm. “What? I didn’t say anything!”
“You were thinking it!” Snapped Waverly.
“Actually, I was thinking of just how much I like you too… In a very gay way.” Nicole smirked. Her hands came to settle on Waverly’s hips as she sat herself up and went in for another kiss. Waverly eagerly obliged.
The kiss quickly turned in to a make-out session and was bordering on something more when there was a loud knock at the door. “God damn your sister,” Nicole growled.
“How do you know it’s Wynonna?”
“It’s her.” Said Nicole. They had switched positions so Nicole was lying on top of Waverly, so she was the one to get up to answer the door.
“Tell her I love her, but she needs to get lost,” Waverly called after her with a giggle. “Then get your ass back in here.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Nicole gave her a wink and a mock salute on her way out the bedroom door.
She padded barefoot through the hall and across the living room, scowling as the knocking became louder and more insistent. “I’m coming, Earp! Keep your hair on!” She yanked the door open with a scowl, ready to chew the older Earp out for her impeccable timing as usual. “You have the worst-”
There was a thud and a bang from the front door. Waverly jumped. “Nicole? ‘Nonna?” She called out, assuming her sister was drunk and had knocked something over. She expected to walk out into the living room and find Nicole propping a wasted Wynonna up. “Seriously, Wynonna. I love you, but - oh. Fuck…”
“Is that a smile? Oh my god, it is! Xavier Dolls is smiling!” Wynonna cracked. She was sitting with her boss at a table near the bar in Shorty’s. They were two beers in and Dolls was having a rare moment where he - to quote Wynonna - ‘took the stick out of his ass’.
“I smile plenty, Earp. Just usually not when you’re around.” He shot back, nursing his beer between his hands.
“Oh please. You know I’m the main attraction in this one horse town.” She winked at him, pushing her luck far more than usual.
Dolls was pretty good company when he wasn’t being Mr Rules and Regulations all the time. He’d been in Purgatory long enough for his frosty personality to warm up to Wynonna’s charms. It was Friday night and the bar was packed. There were regulars from around town, ranchers from some of the nearby farms and some of the bikers from the trailer park.
Nedley was sat a few tables away from them. He was joined by a couple of his deputies. He stood up to take a call on his cell and stepped outside into the quiet night air. Wynonna hadn’t noticed him leave, but she did notice him bustling back in. He went straight back to the table with his deputies and the other two men instantly stood up and left.
The sheriff made his way to Wynonna’s table wearing a grim expression. “Earp, I need you to come with me.”
“Sorry, Nedley. You’re not my type and there’s not enough liquor in the world-” She started to joke, but was abruptly cut off.
Minutes later the tires of Dolls’ truck screeched to a stop outside Waverly and Nicole’s apartment. The whitewashed building was lit up red and blue with all the flashing lights from the patrol cars parked outside it. There was an ambulance too. The sight of it made Wynonna’s stomach lurch. The vehicle had barely stopped when the oldest Earp launched out of the front passenger door and raced towards the entrance.
Nobody tried to stop her until she reached the third floor. Most of the Sheriff’s department seemed to be milling around inside and outside of Nicole’s apartment. “You can’t-” A young deputy that Wynonna didn’t recognize tried to stop her as she walked through the open front door. She shot him a look that froze him in his tracks and walked right past him.
Nicole was sat on the couch. There were two paramedics hovering over her. “I said I’m fine!” She snapped at one of them - a woman in her late fifties with short salt and pepper hair - as she tried to apply a blood pressure cuff. “I need to get out there. I need to-”
“Explain what the fuck is going on?” Wynonna demanded, barging the second paramedic out of the way to get to her. “Where’s Waverly?”
Her tone only marginally softened as she took in the sight of the other woman. Her left eye was swollen almost completely shut and there was a cut just above her eyebrow that was still trickling blood. She looked like she’d been sucker-punched in the face. “What happened?”
The look of anger on Nicole’s face quickly turned to guilt. She glanced down at her hands in her lap. Her knuckles were red-raw and bloody. Whatever happened, she at least had put up a fight. “They took her… There was a knock at the door. I opened it and these two guys just pushed their way in… I tried to stop them… one of them punched me. I must have fallen and hit my head…”
She rubbed at the egg-shaped lump that had grown on the back of her head. “I was only out a few minutes. When I came round Waverly was gone. They took her, Wynonna. Somebody took Waverly.”
“Nicole, you need to go to the hospital and get checked out.” Nedley rubbed at the stubble on his chin as his deputy deliberately ignored him. “That’s an order, Kid.”
“I don’t need to go to the hospital. I’ve had worse on the ice.” Nicole used the back of her sleeve to wipe away the trickle of blood that ran down her cheek. She had just about sat still long enough for one of the paramedics to put on a couple of butterfly stitches, but it was still bleeding.
“What I need…” she yanked open her gun safe after a second attempt at entering the code. She slammed one magazine into her gun and pocketed a second. “Is to find Waverly.”
“I’ve got a BOLO out. I’ve called every neighbouring police department in the province and all of our boys are going to be out there. There’s nothing you can do for her right now.”
Nicole didn’t want to hear it. She shook her head and buckled her holster into place. “I already let her down once tonight… I need to find her. I have to get out there.”
“Where?” Said Nedley. It was almost a sigh. Nicole didn’t have an answer for him. Waverly was gone and she had no idea where to start looking for her. She paused in the doorway of her room, her expression twisted with anguish.
“I need to find her.” She repeated feebly, fresh hot tears welling up in her eyes. She clenched her fists, willing herself to keep it together. Waverly needed her.
Nedley nodded. He rubbed at his jaw again, glancing side to side like he suddenly expected to see somebody else in the room with them. “I know you do, but the truth is we don’t have the first damn clue where to look. Right now you’re more help to Wynonna.”
“Seriously?” Nicole deadpanned. “Do you honestly expect Wynonna Earp to sit around here waiting for somebody else to find her sister?”
“No. I don’t.” Nedley gave her a long hard look like he was trying to communicate something without actually saying it out loud.
“You think she knows something.” Nicole finally caught up. She had a possible concussion and should have been on her way to the hospital. Her brain was working overtime trying to put all of the pieces together.
“Trouble follows that girl. Hell, it follows that whole damn family.” It was the closest thing to an admission that Nicole would get from him. Purgatory held a lot of secrets. Nedley wasn’t about to give them all up, but something had to give. “Wynonna is the proverbial pain in my ass, but if anyone’s going to find Waverly it’s her… and I saw her walking out of here a couple of minutes ago.”
Nicole ran down the stairs of her building so fast it was a miracle she didn’t fall down the last flight. She was concussed and the world was spinning in and out of focus. Wynonna and Dolls were just getting into his truck as Nicole barreled out of the door. She all but flung herself on to the hood in a bid to stop them driving away. “What the hell?” Dolls frowned, killing the engine.
“Haught, you’re meant to be going to the hospital!” Wynonna snapped at her as she yanked open the rear door and climbed in.
“I’m going wherever you’re going.” Nicole snapped. Wynonna shared a pointed look with Dolls before turning to object.
Nicole didn’t give her the chance. “I know some weird shit goes on here, and most of it revolves around you. I don’t care about any of that right now. I just want Waverly back safe, and I think you know who took her.”
“Haught…” Wynonna huffed. She usually didn’t like - or trust - cops, but Nicole was the rare exception. Still, there were some things Wynonna couldn’t share with her. “I don’t know who took her, but I might know someone who does.”
“Earp-” Dolls gave her a warning look.
“We’re not going there as cops though. You okay with that?” Wynonna stared the other woman down. Haught was a girl scout through and through. “I’m not planning on taking any prisoners.” The deputy took a moment to consider this. She gave a curt nod. Her left eye was now completely swollen shut.
“Does it look like I’m wearing my badge right now?”
The three of them drove to the trailer park in relative silence. Dolls kept shooting Wynonna anxious looks like he expected her to blow at any minute. She was sat in the front passenger seat, cradling Peacemaker in her lap.
Nicole wasn’t paying much attention to either of them. Sat in the back with her cheek resting against the cold glass of the window she was doing her best not to throw up. Her adrenaline was wearing off and she was starting to feel a steady thumping pain in the socket of her swollen eye. Her lip had been split too and the small cut kept reopening. Her mouth tasted like she’d been sucking on old pennies.
“Haught.” Nicole jumped as the truck lurched to a stop. She blinked rapidly with the one eye she could actually open. The pain in the other one was getting worse. They were at the trailer park. She must have nodded off - or passed out - for a few minutes on. “You okay?” Asked Dolls. He actually looked worried about her.
“I’m good.” Nicole brushed his concern off. She followed Wynonna’s lead and climbed out of the truck.
“Whoa!” The older Earp shot forward to steady her as she wobbled unsteadily on her feet. Her knees felt like they could buckle at any second.
Nicole closed her good eye over and took a deep, steadying, breath in a bid to fight off the nausea she felt. She definitely had a concussion. The pain in her eye socket suggested something more than that too. Maybe some kind of fracture.
“Here.” She looked up to find Dolls holding out a pill bottle for her. She took it and squinted at the label.
“They’re painkillers. Take two. They’ll keep you going for a while.” Said Dolls.
“Your first name’s Xavier?” Nicole took two of the pills out as ordered and handed the bottle back over.
“Your last name is Haught.” Dolls gave her a wry look before tossing the pill bottle back in the car.
Nicole might have been concussed but she still had enough sense to keep her from making an X-Men joke. She swallowed the pills dry, wincing at the chalky taste they left in the back of her throat.
By the time they had made their way over to the bonfire in the centre of the trailer park the pills had kicked in and taken the edge off. She let Dolls and Wynonna take the lead as they approached a group of thirty or so sitting around the fire.
There were men and women of all ages sitting on lawn chairs, ratty old couches and even car seats in some cases. There were a few kids running around too, though a woman quickly shepherded them into one of the nearby trailers as the group of outsiders approached.
Wynonna narrowed in on one man in particular. Bobo was sat in a lawn chair, an open beer in his hand and a grim smile on his face. “Wynonna, to what do I owe the-”
“Shut up shit head.” The heir was in no mood for Bobo’s games. She pulled Peacemaker out from the holster on her hip and aimed squarely at the revenant’s chest.
“Earp.” Dolls warned in a low growl. There were far too many witnesses for his liking. Nicole didn’t flinch. If the man in the fur coat in front of her had anything to do with Waverly’s abduction she would do far worse than shoot him.
Usually, she’d be talking Wynonna down and trying to reason with her to find another - non-lethal - way to get the information that they needed. Usually, she wasn’t walking around with a concussion, high on pain pills, so she let it go this once. Wynonna’s way would get more results than flashing badges around ever could.
Bobo looked undeterred, maybe even bored. “Really? Are you going to shoot me? In cold blood, in front of all of these people?” He narrowed his eyes at her and for a second Nicole could have sworn the whites of his eyes disappeared.
“Waverly’s missing.” Wynonna snarled at him. “If you had anything to do with it-”
“Why would I take her? What would that get me, other than a gun pointed in my face?” Bobo held his hands up by his shoulders, more for dramatic flair than any actual fear of her pulling the trigger.
Nicole had her hand on the butt of her own gun, ready to draw it if anything went south. There were a lot of burly biker types at the trailer park. Most of them looked to be packing. If Wynonna wasn’t careful things could quickly descend into a shootout.
“If you didn’t take her you know who did.” Wynonna cocked the firing pin back, loading a bullet into the chamber as she stepped closer and pressed the barrel right into his forehead.
Nicole watched in awe as Peacemaker lit up like there was a fire raging inside of the gun. Strange symbols that she had never noticed before were illuminated on the barrel. She had no idea what was going on, but she knew better than to ask.
Bobo squirmed in his seat, obviously uncomfortable. Nicole couldn’t blame him. The glowing gun was making her uncomfortable and it wasn’t even pointed at her. “I had nothing to do with Waverly being taken. I would never have allowed it.” Said Bobo. He actually sounded genuine. “I might know of a group that would be stupid enough to try.”
Nicole had no idea who Bobo was or why Wynonna’s gun was suddenly lighting up, but minutes later they were back in the truck and heading to the old quarry. Wynonna was driving. Nicole felt sick again. She closed her good eye over, needing just a minute to compose herself. Dolls glanced in the rear mirror and caught her. Keeping his voice low, he said, “You know she’s going to have questions when this is over.”
Wynonna glanced back too. Her eyes lingered longer, checking that Nicole was actually still breathing. She looked pretty beat up. The left side of her face looked like one big bruise. Waverly was going to freak. “I know, but I can only deal with one crisis at a time.”
“You know I can hear you both, right?” Nicole grumbled from the back, both eyes still closed over. “I’m concussed, not deaf.”
“Oh good, she’s still breathing. I was worried there for a sec.” Wynonna put her foot down, taking a bend in the road far too fast.
Before long they were lurching to a stop outside a run-down old shack on the edge of the quarry. “Okay, one-story building. Looks to be three, maybe four, rooms.” Dolls did a quick assessment of the building.
“Bobo said there’d be at least four of them.” Wynonna pulled out Peacemaker and turned to Nicole. “Shoot first, ask questions later. Aim for the head. It’ll keep them down longer.”
“Not going to ask.” Nicole shook her head, but drew her own weapon and got out of the truck. Wynonna elbowed Dolls with a smug grin.
“See, she’s learning.”
“You two take the front. I’ll go around back.” Dolls pointedly ignored her. “Try not to get shot. Either of you.”
“No promises,” Nicole mumbled as she watched him go. Getting shot would probably be an improvement on how she was feeling.
“You good?” Wynonna asked. She put her hand out to stop Nicole from walking away. “Waverly needs your A-game right now. You can pass out when she’s safe.”
“Roger that.” Nicole nodded and instantly regretted it. The two of them approached the front of the shack slowly, giving Dolls the time to scout out the back.
Inside the shack, Waverly Earp was tied to a dining room chair and turning the air blue. The way she was cussing out the men who had taken her would have made hardened sailors blush. “You shit-heads have no idea what you’re dealing with! My sister is going to kick your ass! And, and my girlfriend’s a cop! So she’ll shoot your ass!”
“Shut her up.” The head demon growled. He was a stocky man in his late fifties, with a big bushy beard and a receding hairline.
“Sure thing, Pa.” A younger man obliged, shoving a rag into Waverly’s open mouth just as she was about to start threatening them all again. She let out an indignant huff, glaring daggers at the younger man.
He was one of the three brothers - and their father - who had broken into Nicole’s apartment and taken Waverly. She had learned that much about them in the few hours since they’d taken her. That, and they weren’t very bright.
“I did a number on yer little girlfriend.” The second son growled in Waverly’s face. He looked seventeen if he was a day, had a face full of acne and greasy hair down to his shoulders. His name was Tobias Smith and he was on Waverly’s research board. He and his family had been shot down by Wyatt during a stagecoach robbery.
“I don’t think she was breathing when we left.” Ely, Tobias’s older brother barked with laughter. Waverly went rigid. Her eyes were wide and disbelieving as she violently shook her head. Nicole was okay. She had to be. Waverly would never forgive herself if anything had happened to her.
“How many lawmen is that now?” The third brother asked. The answer was cut off as there was a knock at the door. The three brothers all looked expectantly at their father.
He scratched at his bushy beard with stubby, nicotine-stained, fingers. “Well answer it!” He snapped at his youngest son. Tobias scrambled to grab his shotgun and flung the door open to find the business end of a Buntline Special pointed in his face.
Wynonna waited the full two seconds it took for Peacemaker to light up before she pulled the trigger. Had Tobias Smith been human, his brains would have ended up all over the walls. Since he was a Revenant, his face held a look of shock for a moment before it crumbled to ash - along with the rest of his body - and was swallowed by the fires of hell.
Nicole had no time to react to the sight. Waverly was her focus. A man had just disintegrated in front of her, but she would have to deal with that later. She barreled in past Wynonna as chaos erupted and bullets started flying.
A headshot took one of the remaining brothers down, albeit temporarily. Nicole barely had time to feel guilty about it before the guy was groaning and the bullet was popping back out of his skull.
Nicole kept moving. She heard the back door exploding open as Dolls kicked it in. He took out the oldest brother with a tight triangle formation to the chest. Wynonna shot the last brother, giving him a more permanent death before moving on to the other two bodies. Nicole left her to it. Holstering her gun she went straight to Waverly. With a flick of the knife in her pocket, she started cutting the ropes that were keeping Waverly’s wrists bound to the chair.
Behind her, Wynonna was rounding on the last of the revenants. “You damn Earps! Do you know what Wyatt-”
“Don’t care.” She squeezed the trigger, silencing the man forever more. She didn't want to know why he had taken her little sister, or what he intended to do with her. Wynonna just wanted him to pay for it.
Nicole looked over her shoulder just as he was swallowed by flames and sat staring in disbelief. “Nicole! Baby, look at me!” Waverly had one hand free. She used it to cup Nicole’s cheek and turn her attention back to her. “Cut me loose. We’ll talk about… that, later.”
Nicole nodded dumbly. She began cutting at the remaining rope in a bid to free Waverly’s other hand. Waverly carried on cupping her cheek, softly caressing the side of her face with her thumb. Nicole hissed as she touched the welt just below her eye.
“I’m sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.” Waverly apologized. There were tears in her eyes and she was fighting to hold them back. “This is all my fault.”
“No. It’s not.” Nicole dropped her knife as the bindings finally gave way.
She grabbed the arm of the chair, trying to steady herself as her knees buckled again. “We’ll talk about it later…” With that, Nicole’s one good eye rolled up into the back of her head as she slumped forward and passed out. “Nicole!”
Nicole Haught woke with a start. She was covered in a cold sweat and her left eye was still mostly swollen shut. She was lying on the Earp’s couch. There was a ratty old afghan blanket covering her. She pushed it away as she sat up. The room was in darkness, but she could see the light from the kitchen bleeding through from the other room. There were voices too. They weren’t whispering, but they were talking quietly so as not to be overheard.
“She’s going to want answers when she wakes up.” That was Wynonna. She, Waverly and Dolls were sat around the kitchen table. They’d been there for hours while Nicole slept off her concussion. The conversation had been going in circles. “We need to tell her about the Revenants, and the curse. All of it.”
“We can’t risk more civilians finding out about the curse.” Dolls piped up, followed by Waverly.
“Nicole’s not a civilian, and it’s not like she’s some random off the street! She deserves to know the truth! About everything. I should have told her a long time ago.”
“Yeah, you should have.” Nicole was leaning heavily against the door frame when the other three looked over at her.
“Can we talk now?” She didn’t wait for Waverly’s answer. Stumbling back into the living room she collapsed back on to the couch with a huff. Waverly followed her sheepishly. She was carrying an icepack and she offered it to her.
“Thanks.” Nicole took it and held it against the swollen side of her face. She winced. The painkillers Dolls had given her were wearing off. “How long was I out?”
“A few hours. We thought it would be best to let you sleep.” The younger Earp sat down on the edge of the couch. The distance between them had never seemed so great. “How much did you hear?”
“Revenants. Curse… I have no idea what any of it means, though. Does it have something to do with those men taking you?”
Waverly looked down at her clasped hands. There was no easy way to do this. “It’s late, and you’re still recovering. Maybe we should talk in the morning-”
“Waves, please.” Nicole sighed. She scooted closer on the couch and took hold of one of Waverly’s hands. There were angry red marks on her wrists from where the rope had bitten into her skin. Nicole brushed the pad of her thumb over the marks as if she could wipe them away.
She took Waverly’s other hand, holding them both in hers. “I… What I saw tonight, that wasn’t normal. This town isn’t normal and I’ve known that for a long time. I know you’ve been hiding something from me and I’ve tried to respect your privacy, but… If you’re in trouble I need to know about it. I can’t protect you if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be protecting you from.”
Waverly glanced back, knowing Dolls and her sister were within hearing distance. “Let’s go up to my room. I’ll tell you everything.”
“You’re still here.” Waverly smiled as she woke up to find Nicole lying in her bed beside her. They’d spent hours talking the previous night and well into the morning. Waverly had laid everything down for the other woman, telling her everything from Wyatt’s curse to the death of her father, Wynonna coming back to town and Black Badge showing up.
“Of course.” Nicole still couldn’t open one eye and the left side of her face was painted in rapidly forming bruises. She winced as she propped herself up on her side and leaned in to kiss Waverly on the lips. The action was careful and reserved. The cut on her lip was just starting to scab and she didn’t want to risk popping it open again. It still hurt, but it was worth it to get to kiss Waverly again.
“Did you really a think a century old family curse and a bunch of demons would be enough to scare me off? I’ve met your aunt, now she’s scary…” She cracked a smile as she made Waverly laugh.
She had taken the news better than Waverly expected. Nicole was pretty open-minded for a small town cop. Waverly supposed seeing four revenants taken out first hand probably helped her wrap her head around the whole demon thing.
“I’m sorry I got you hurt.” Waverly had come away from the botched abduction with nothing more than a couple of rope burns on her wrists. Nicole hadn’t been so lucky.
“It’s not your fault.” Nicole dismissed her apology. She lay her head back down on Waverly’s pillow and wrapped her arms around the younger woman. Waverly turned over so they were spooning under the covers. “I’m just glad you’re safe… and the Homestead is safe, right?”
“Yeah, the bedrock is full of ammolite. It stops the revenants from coming on to our land. Mostly.” Nicole didn’t need to ask what she meant by that.
Waverly had really told her everything, including the part she had inadvertently played in the Seven taking her father and older sister. It had been hard to talk about Willa, but the younger Earp had promised Nicole the whole truth. That’s what she had given her.
Both women were silent for a while, savouring the peace and quiet, and the comforting warmth of sharing Waverly’s small bed. Eventually Nicole let out a heavy sigh. “You need to move back home.”
“What?” Waverly turned to face her so fast they almost butted heads. Nicole bit back a hiss of pain at having to rear back to stop their foreheads from colliding. “What are you talking about? We agreed it would be best if I stayed at the apartment at least another month-”
“That was before I found all this stuff out! Waves, it’s not safe for you there! I would never have asked you to move in with me if I’d realized you were in danger.”
“What about Mrs Thompson? What if she kicks you out? What if-”
“I don’t care about anything but you being safe.” Nicole caught Waverly’s hands to stop her gesturing around wildly. “You’re my number one priority. Nothing else matters.”
Nicole hadn’t thought it would be such a big deal, but Waverly was pouting at her. Of course, she was happy to hear that coming from her sort-of-girlfriend, but at the same time, they had only just admitted their feelings for each other.
“Nicole, we just spent a month pretending to date and now… now everything is different and you want us to pretend we’re not together? I can’t do that! I want to be with you! I want us to go on dates and make out in the snow at two in the morning and-”
Nicole cut her off with another kiss. This one had a little more force behind it and it did the job. Waverly fell silent and started kissing her back. They only pulled apart when Nicole let out a grunt of pain. Waverly let out another hasty apology before running off to get some painkillers from the medicine cabinet.
Nicole was sitting up with her back against the headboard when she walked back in. She took the pills with a thank you. They weren’t anywhere near as good as whatever Dolls had given her the night before, but they took the edge off.
Waverly climbed back into bed with her, careful not to jostle the other woman too much. Nicole wrapped an arm around her and pulled her in closer. Her chin came to rest on the top of Waverly’s head as she held her. “I don’t want to have to pretend anymore, but I don’t want to be run out of town with pitchforks either.”
“So what do we do?” Waverly asked. She couldn’t see any way out of the predicament they’d landed themselves in. Nicole took a minute to think their options over. They didn’t have a whole lot of them, but one thing was clear. Waverly was safer at the homestead.
“Haught? What are you doing here? I thought I told you to take two weeks off.” Nedley glared at his newest deputy as she slipped through his office door. It had been a little over a week since the incident with Waverly. She’d come home safe and Black Badge had dealt with the men who had taken her - or so Nedley had been told.
Nicole’s own statement on the events of that night had been brief. She’d been attacked after opening her front door to four men. They had taken Waverly. She’d joined Wynonna and Dolls in searching for her and had passed out from her injuries in the car. When she came too they already had Waverly back.
Nedley had accepted the offered statement without question.
“I know, sir. I just wanted to tell you I’ll be back Monday.” Nicole hovered in front of his desk with her hands folded together like a school girl in the principle’s office. The swelling in her left eye had finally gone down, leaving her with just a black eye and scabbed over cut right above her eyebrow. The bruising on her cheek had faded to a sickly yellow colour, but at least she was able to - mostly - hide it with her foundation.
“I told you to take two weeks.” Came Nedley’s stern reply.
“I’m ready, sir.” Nicole insisted. “I’m okay.”
“You were punched so hard your eye socket was fractured.”
Waverly had finally persuaded her to go and get checked out at the hospital the day after. They’d given her an X-ray, confirmed the fracture and sent her home with a prescription for some painkillers. “A hairline fracture.” Argued Nicole. “I’m ready to come back, even if it’s just to ride a desk for the week… I need something to keep me occupied or I’m going to go stir crazy. Please, sir.”
Nedley hummed and hawed for a while longer, but eventually broke down. He had a soft spot for the young deputy and - if he was being honest - he was desperate to have her back. “Alright, but you’re on desk duty for the week, and you’re only working part-time. You can come in for nine and work until lunch.”
“Thank you, sir! I really appreciate this. I guess I’ll see you Monday-”
“Hold up.” Nedley stopped her as she turned to get the door. “Shut the door and sit down a second.” Nicole did as she was told. After closing the door over all the way she took a seat in one of the chairs in front of his desk. Nicole definitely felt like she was sitting in the principle’s office now. “Is everything okay, sir?” Nedley looked just as uncomfortable as she did as he shifted in his seat and shuffled the papers on his desk.
“Aunt Marge mentioned she hasn’t seen you or Waverly around the apartment since it happened. Where are you two staying at?”
“Oh.” Of all the scenarios Nicole had been running in her head, Nedley asking her to sit to chat about her living arrangements hadn’t been one of them.
“We’ve been staying at the Earp homestead.” It had only been a week, but the oldest Earp was already driving her up the wall. That was one of the reasons she wanted to get back to work.
“How’s that going?” He gave her a wry smirk, already guessing the answer. Nicole bit down on the inside of her cheek, forcing her expression to remain neutral. Wynonna mostly alternated between being an overprotective helicopter-parent to her little sister one minute and a drunk toddler the next.
“Great.” Nicole lied. “I was actually going to stop by and see your aunt later… Waverly’s decided to stay at the homestead for a while. I need to see if Margery will be okay with just me living in the apartment.”
“You two calling it a day?” Nedley frowned, looking even more uncomfortable. It was like he expected his deputy to break down crying in front of him at any minute.
“No. No, nothing like that.” Said Nicole. “Waverly’s just safer at the homestead.” Nedley shared a pointed look with her as he nodded his head and rubbed at the stubble on his chin.
“Can’t argue you with there.”
“So, are you two keeping this charade up for much longer or calling it quits?” The question caught Nicole completely out of the blue. It took her a moment to register what he’d said, and even then she didn’t fully comprehend the question.
“Uh, excuse me? W-what charade?”
Nedley didn’t answer right away. Glancing at his closed door, he reached into his bottom drawer and pulled out a bottle of scotch and a couple of paper cups. He poured two generous measures while Nicole sat waiting. Placing one down in front of her, he said, “I know you and Waverly haven’t been dating for months like you said. I think you tried to pull the wool over Aunt Marge’s eyes and when she called you out on it you two had to go ‘public’ to cover… Am I right?”
Nicole, who had just been about to politely decline the offered drink, snatched the paper cup up and took a long swig. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, sir.” Her cheeks were burning and the tips of her ears were scarlet red. She had never been a very good liar and Nedley was looking at her like he could see straight through her.
“You know what makes me so good at my job, Nicole?” The question was rhetorical. He didn’t pause to let her attempt to answer. “People look at me and they see some good ole’ boy who couldn’t find his own ass with a map.”
“Don’t jump to my defence or anything, Haught.” He gave a mirthless chuckle as she sat speechlessly and topped up his own cup. Nicole nervously downed what was left in her own cup and held it out for a refill, figuring she was going to need it. Nedley obliged.
Placing the bottle back down on his desk he let out a heavy sigh. He’d been in law enforcement for close to three decades and had spent much of that time protecting the secrets of Purgatory. Randy Nedley figured he had maybe five good years left in him, after that the job would go to Nicole. That’s what he’d recruited her for, after all.
“People underestimate me. That’s what makes me a good cop. A good sheriff. That’s what makes you so good at your job too. People underestimate just what you can do. What you see. That’s why you’re going be a damn good sheriff when I retire.”
“Sheriff… Sir, I-” Nicole was flabbergasted. She certainly wanted to progress in her career, and her sights had been set on the position of sheriff, but she had expected to have to fight and claw her way there tooth and nail. She had never anticipated it would just be handed to her.
“By now I’m guessing you know all about the town - particularly some of its more colourful residents - and you know why we need to keep it quiet. Why some reports can’t be filed.” Nicole nodded in the affirmative. A lot of the strange goings on in the little town of Purgatory had started making a lot more sense after the events of last week. “Don’t get too excited yet. I don’t plan on handing over the reigns for a good few years yet, but I wanted you to know that’s why I hired you.”
“Thank you, sir… but what does any of that have to do with Waverly and me?” Nicole was elated at the praise and the potential promotion further down the line, but she was still panicking over what Nedley had said earlier.
“I see a lot more of what goes on in this town than people think. You’ve had a thing for Waverly Earp since the moment you got here. If you were really dating her all this time you’d have that stupid look on your face more often.”
“Look? What look?”
“That one.” Nedley pointed his finger at her. “That goofy, goo-eyed smile of yours you get when she so much as says your name.”
Nicole was flustered, her whole face was burning with embarrassment and she was well aware of the look he was talking about in regards to Waverly. “We weren’t dating. Not when I first rented the apartment, but recently…” she trailed off, her face split into a wide grin. Nedley nodded his approval at her. He held up his cup for a toast.
“Sir, if you knew we were lying, why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you tell your aunt?”
“I did,” Nedley answered honestly, taking her by surprise. She felt the bottom of her stomach drop out at the thought of facing Margery Thompson now. Under his bushy moustache, his lips arched into a smug smirk. “I told my aunt I hadn’t seen Waverly around the place when you first moved in.”
“You…” Nicole faltered. She had assumed Mrs Thompson had picked up on Waverly’s absence on her own. She had never suspected that her own boss had tattled on her to his aunt. “Why? Why not just tell her we were lying to her?”
“And miss all the fun?” Nedley chuckled, his eyes glowing with amusement. “I figured if I set her on you two Waverly would have to move in. Then you two could stop mooning over each other and actually do something about it. It was that, or knock your heads together until you saw sense.” He shrugged while Nicole stared at him in disbelief.
“Does your aunt know we were faking?”
“Of course not!” Nedley slapped at his thigh and shook his head side to side. “She’d play holy hell if she knew you two weren’t really a couple. Don’t worry, she won’t hear anything from me, and she’ll understand if Waverly doesn’t want to go back to the apartment. Though I doubt she’ll leave it at that. She’ll clear out any property in town for you two; maybe even one she doesn’t own.”
They shared a laugh at that. Nicole fully believed him. She felt at least some relief that there was one less person in her life she needed to lie to. “Waves and I are hoping to start fresh. Living with her was great, more than great, but everything is so new and I don’t want to rush her in to-” Nedley held his hand up to stop her.
“I appreciate your honesty, Haught. But I don’t need to know the ins and outs of it. I’ll see you here Monday morning, and I’ll have a word with Aunt Marge for you.”
When Nicole left the station she decided to leave visiting Mrs Thompson for another day. She would give Nedley a chance to speak to her first. Waverly had texted her to pick a couple of things up from the grocery store for dinner.
She was already cooking by the time Nicole let herself in through the front door of the homestead. Flora the cat came to greet her at the door. She seemed to have made herself right at home at the homestead. She spent most nights sleeping on Wynonna’s sofa bed with her.
Waverly was in the kitchen with her back to the door. Nicole slipped in and surprised her with a kiss on the cheek. “Babe! Wear a bell or something!” Waverly admonished. She was smiling though. Nicole had been worried about the repercussions of her being abducted by demons, but apparently, it wasn’t the first time. Waverly had bounced right back.
“Mhmm, something smells good.” Nicole nestled her face in the crook of Waverly’s neck, inhaling her scent as she peppered soft kisses on the skin that was exposed by her tank top. “Dinner smells good too.”
Waverly rolled her eyes at the corny line, but it still worked. Turning in Nicole’s arms she reached up on her tiptoes to kiss her on the lips. Nicole’s lip was mostly healing, though an over-enthusiastic make-out session had seen the scar rip open again earlier in the week. Waverly had gotten a little carried away and bitten down on her bottom lip, forgetting about the other woman’s injuries.
Nicole’s rested one hand on Waverly’s hip, guiding her back to press her up against the counter while the other hand cupped the back of her head, pulling her in closer. Waverly’s own hands became tangled in Nicole’s hair. She was wearing it loose out of her usual braid and Waverly loved nothing more than running her fingers through those fiery locks.
Backed against the counter with Nicole’s tongue slipping into her open mouth, Waverly let out a soft moan. Most of their kisses had gone this way over the course of the week and it was only a matter of time before it would progress further. Nicole was just waiting for the green light from Waverly.
A theatrical cough from behind them made both women jump. Nicole turned, expecting to see Wynonna standing there as usual. She seemed to have some kind of internal radar for whenever they were alone together. Instead, she found Waverly’s aunt Gus.
“Mrs McCready.” Nicole almost jumped a foot away from the younger woman. “I, I didn’t realize you were here.”
“Obviously.” Said Gus, though her tone was light and she looked amused. “Waverly invited me for dinner. She said she had something to tell me. I think I can guess what it is.”
“Lot of that going around…” Nicole muttered to herself. She caught Waverly eying her and made a mental note to tell her about her conversation with Nedley later.
“Gus, I was going to tell you earlier but with everything that happened-” Waverly started to explain, though her aunt didn’t look too phased by it all. She was reacting a damn sight better than Nicole’s parents had the first time they’d caught her with a girl.
“Please. Like I didn’t see this coming a mile off.” She chuckled softly. “Nicole, you come on in and sit with me while Waverly finishes off or we’ll be waiting on supper forever."
“Gus.” She interrupted, looping her arm through Nicole’s to guide her away from Waverly and towards the living room. “How many times have I got to tell you to call me Gus? You’re dating my niece, we’re practically family now.” Nicole glanced back at Waverly and mouthed the word ‘dating’ at her. Waverly shrugged back at her, wearing an impish grin. So it was official.
She was dating Waverly Earp.
Nicole had been back in her apartment for all of ten minutes when there was a knock at the door. She abandoned the packing tape she was holding and went to answer it. “Nicole, sweetie, I thought I saw your truck outside!” Mrs Thompson greeted her with a crushing hug. The many bangles on her wrists jingled as she held the much taller woman close.
“Hi, Mrs Thompson.” Nicole greeted her politely. She stepped back from the door, inviting her inside.
“Oh, I don’t want to intrude.” The old woman said though she was looking past Nicole entirely and at the packing boxes in the middle of the living room.
“Are you moving out? Randy came by, but he didn’t say you were wanting to move out completely…”
“Oh, no. That’s Waverly’s stuff.”
Margery Thompson’s expression fell. She took Nicole’s hands in one of her withered own. “Randy said she wasn’t too keen to come back. I’d hoped she would have changed her mind though. Poor girl.”
Nicole was back at work full time and she had finally moved back from the homestead, bringing her cat in tow with her. The cat was busy lying on top of one of Waverly’s sweaters on the couch, completely uninterested in the conversation going on between the humans.
“Uh, yeah. She just couldn’t face coming back here.” It was the story they’d agreed on, their only way out of faking living together. Margery wasn’t so easily duped though.
“Well, I have plenty more places you two could rent. In fact, I have this lovely little blue house that would be just perfect for you two-”
“Uh…” Nicole rubbed her shoulder, her gaze shifting awkwardly around the room. “Actually, Waverly and I have decided to slow things down a touch. We think we might have jumped the gun in living together.”
“Oh dear!” Margery shook her head in sympathy. “It can be hard when that honeymoon period ends, but you two keep at it.” She patted Nicole’s hand before letting go of it.
“We will.” Nicole agreed. As much as she enjoyed having Waverly around night and day, they were only just starting out. It was Waverly’s first relationship with a woman and they were both still exploring their boundaries. They were still a long way off from the commitment of living together as a couple for real.
“I realize that with Waverly not living here you might not want me here-”
“Don’t be silly, child! I don’t rent to single people. You’re still a couple, you’re just not under one roof right now. You give that girl time, she’ll come around; and you can stay here as long as you want until that happens.”
“Thank you, Mrs Thompson.” Nicole was relieved she wouldn’t have to move back to the homestead. She loved Waverly, but her family home came with her older sister and Wynonna was just too much to live with. Nicole couldn’t wait until she could get Waverly over to the apartment for some alone time. They might not have been living together anymore, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t still come over.
Maybe even spend the odd night.
“Hey, baby-girl. I thought you were going to Haught’s tonight.” Wynonna stood leaning against Waverly’s open bedroom door, watching her sister raiding her closet in a gay panic.
“I am! I just can’t make up my mind what to wear!” Waverly was wrapped in a towel, her hair still wet from the shower. There was a matching black lace lingerie set lying out on the bed.
Wynonna let out a low whistle. “Well, those are a start. Add a trench coat and I’d say you’re done.” She smirked, ignoring Waverly as she rolled her eyes at her. She snatched the underwear up off the bed.
“I am not going over to Nicole’s for dinner wearing sexy lingerie and a trench coat!”
“You’re not going over for dinner either. Though I’m sure you’ll be eating out tonight-”
“Out! Get out!” Waverly practically manhandled her taller, older, sister out of her room and slammed the door. She could hear Wynonna chuckling to herself all the way down the stairs.
Wynonna wasn’t wrong, but Waverly wasn’t about to admit that. Nicole had been back at work for a week and they had been sort of dating for two. It had been strange at first, adjusting to living back on the homestead and she was eager to spend her first night at Nicole’s apartment in weeks.
Nicole had invited her over for dinner earlier that day at the station. She had asked if she might want to spend the night too. Her cheeks had been flushed and she’d been giving Waverly that doe-eyed smile of hers, which had left the younger girl’s stomach fluttering.
Waverly had bitten the bullet there and then. Tonight was the night she’d decided. She was going to spend the night with her girlfriend - If she ever decided on something to wear.
They were eating in, so she didn’t want to overdo it with anything too fancy, but at the same time, she didn’t want to turn up looking like she’d just gotten off work. Giving in with a heavy sigh, she swallowed her pride.
“Wynonna! Come help me pick something!”
“Waves, wow… you look great.” Nicole greeted her at the door of her apartment with a look of awe. Waverly had eventually settled on a yellow sundress with little blue flowers on. She had almost frozen just getting out of her jeep and walking to the building, but it was worth it for the look on Nicole’s face.
“Looking good yourself,” Waverly replied. She moved in to greet her girlfriend with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Nicole was wearing a navy button down shirt and a pair of jeans that hugged her hips in all the right ways. “I brought wine.”
“Thanks, babe.” Nicole took the bottle from her and closed the door. She put on the latch and locked the new deadbolt she had added to the front door for security reasons. “Dinner’s almost ready.”
Waverly took a seat on the couch while Nicole went to pour the wine. Flora was spread out across one of the cushions. The cat let out a pathetic meow and sat up to butt her head against Waverly’s hand until she started stroking her. “Missed me, huh?”
“Not as much as I have.” Nicole handed over a glass of wine and shooed the cat away so she could sit down next to the other woman.
“I dunno, Flora seemed to have missed me a lot…” Waverly teased, a hint of a challenge in her tone.
Nicole rose to the challenge as expected and leaned in to steal a kiss. Waverly eagerly kissed her back. Setting her glass aside, she moved so she was straddling Nicole’s hips, with her hands burying themselves in her hair.
Nicole was momentarily surprised, but Waverly had been growing bolder with her affections lately and she quickly adapted. Her hands cupped Waverly’s ass, pulling her in closer to her as they carried on kissing.
They were interrupted five minutes later by the alarm on Nicole’s phone. “The lasagne’s ready. I better get it out of the oven.”
“But I don’t want to get up!” Waverly pouted, doing a good impression of a spoiled brat.
“Who said you had to?” With a grin Nicole stood up, taking Waverly with her as she hooked her hands under her thighs and hoisted her up around her waist. Waverly let out a squeal of laughter as she threw her arms around Nicole’s neck, clinging on to the taller woman as she walked them over to the kitchen.
She placed her down on the counter with one last kiss before seeing to dinner. “Showoff.” Said Waverly. She sat with her ankles crossed, watching as Nicole plated up their meal. She hopped down and adjusted her dress before following Nicole over to the table to sit down and eat.
The conversation flowed easily between the two. They talked about how their days had gone. Nicole was still on desk duty, so she didn’t have a whole lot to talk about, but Waverly had been tracking down a revenant with Wynonna and Dolls, so she filled her in on all the details.
It was nice to be able to share that side of her life with someone. Nicole, for her part, seemed pretty interested in the supernatural side of town. She had already helped Waverly with some of her research, and Dolls no longer snapped at her whenever she walked into the Black Badge offices.
Nicole’s phone rang towards the end of dinner. She glanced at the caller ID with a frown. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this.” She offered Waverly an apologetic smile as she stood up and headed into the kitchen.
“Hey, what’s up? Oh, great. Thanks. Yeah, I’m good… how're the ribs?” Waverly heard snippets of Nicole’s side of the conversation. She had a good idea who was calling by the time the other woman hung up and returned to the table.
“Sorry about that.” She apologized again. Before Waverly could even ask she said, “That was Meagan. I’m waiting on her sending me some papers over.”
“Is this where you tell me you’re secretly married?” Waverly tried for cool and nonchalant, but couldn’t quite pull it off. She let out a nervous laugh, hoping Nicole would take the joke as it was intended.
“No. Nothing like that.” She shook her head. “Just some financial stuff we hadn’t gotten around to sorting out.”
“Oh, okay. How’s she doing?” Waverly asked, trying to be nice. She sipped her wine.
“Yeah, she’s good.” Nicole took a drink from her own glass. A heavy silence had suddenly descended over them after Meagan’s call. Waverly hated the feelings of jealousy she felt in the pit of her stomach, but Nicole had been engaged to marry the other woman. Waverly was entitled to at least feel some unease about the two being in contact.
“Hey…” Nicole reached over and placed a hand on Waverly’s arm to catch her attention. She used her thumb to rub soothing circles against the side of her wrist. “I’m right where I want to be. With who I want to be with.”
Waverly nodded absently, glancing sideways at Nicole’s earnest expression. With her free hand she reached out for her wine glass sitting on the coffee table. She knocked it back like a shot of neat bourbon and stood to her feet, tugging Nicole along with her.
The other woman didn’t need to ask what was going on as Waverly led her down the familiar corridor to the bedroom they had shared for almost a month. Nicole paused on the threshold, hovering uncertainly in the hallway as Waverly turned back to give her a questioning look.
“Are you sure about this? If you’re not ready I completely…” She trailed off as Waverly let go of her hand and reached down for the hem of her dress. She pulled it up over her head, treating Nicole to a breathtaking sight.
Waverly Earp was standing there, in the middle of Nicole’s bedroom, wearing a lacy black lingerie set and not much else.
The younger woman’s confidence wavered as Nicole just stood there staring at her. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was actually hanging open. “Kind of feeling a little overdressed now.” She let out an awkward laugh, reaching up to cover herself with her arms.
“Wait-” Nicole realized she had been staring and snapped herself out of it. “You… wow. Just, wow…”
“That’s a much better response.” Waverly felt a bit more at ease. “But you’re still overdressed.”
“My bad.” Nicole was smirking as she started unbuttoning her shirt. Her nimble fingers were working painfully slow. Waverly had to fight the overwhelming urge to take a step forward and just rip her shirt right off of her.
“You’re doing this on purpose.” Waverly glared at her.
“Just taking my time to appreciate the view.” Chuckled Nicole. She moved on to the zip of her jeans, leaving her shirt hanging open.
Underneath she was wearing a sports bra. It was hardly anywhere near as sexy as Waverly’s fancy lingerie, but she genuinely hadn’t expected things to go so far tonight.
Realizing Nicole wasn’t about to hurry up any time soon Waverly took a seat on the edge of the bed, deciding to take in the view for herself. She sat with her hands out at her sides, legs crossed one over the other, as she propped herself up and deliberately pushed out her chest.
Nicole faltered just for a second. Her thumbs were hooked in to her waistband ready for her to pull down her jeans. She had been teasing Waverly but the little minx had turned the tables on her.
Nicole couldn’t hold out any longer. She moved closer, climbing on to her lap in order to kiss her. “You’re still wearing too many clothes.” Huffed Waverly.
Though she didn’t seem to object to the kiss, or when Nicole pushed her down to the bed and began running her hands up and down her bare legs. She removed her hands just long enough to reach back and tug off her shirt.
“Much better.” Waverly praised her. She reached down between their bodies to help with Nicole’s jeans. She had barely pushed them down over her hips when she heard the shriek of her cell phone coming from in the living room.
“It’s Wynonna.” She groaned. She recognized the ring tone she had assigned to her sister. Waverly did her best to ignore it, but as soon as it stopped Nicole’s cell phone started. It was in her back pocket.
“Fucking, Wynonna,” Nicole growled. She finally managed to get out of her jeans and tossed them - phone included - to the floor.
“No distractions…” Waverly reached up, cupping her cheeks in both hands as she pulled Nicole down flush against her. Nicole’s body was warm and firm against her. The weight pressing down on her was comfortable rather than oppressive - like it had been with Champ. “Tonight is all about you and me-”
From out in the kitchen the landline started to ring. The two women shared a groan. “How does she even have that number?” Nicole huffed. Rolling on to her side she finally gave up and decided to face facts. Wynonna wasn’t going to stop.
Waverly reached over the side of the bed and fished Nicole’s phone out of her jeans. She waited for the phone in the kitchen to stop ringing before she tried Wynonna’s cell. “I swear to god,‘Nonna, the world had better be ending!”
Nicole waited patiently, hoping against hope that it would be some kind of false alarm. “Fine… Okay. I’ll see you soon.” Waverly hung up, her expression sour.
“What? What is it?”
“Oh, you know… just the end of the world.”
Nicole tensed. She had been open to the supernatural side of Purgatory from the start, but the thought of Waverly facing off with whatever evil plagued the Ghost River Triangle was just too much.
“I’m coming with you.” She said, her teeth set with determination. “Nicole, I-”
“No, Waverly! Whatever you’re about to say, just save it… I am not letting you go off alone to fight god-knows wh-”
“Nicole.” Waverly grabbed her face to get her attention. “I was about to say of course you are. You’re part of the team now.”
Despite the interruption, Nicole was still beaming as they pulled up outside the police station. She and Waverly had quickly changed back into their clothes and jumped into Nicole’s cruiser.
Wynonna, Doc and Dolls were waiting for them in the black badge offices. Doc tipped his hat towards the two women, while Dolls looked up from his computer and nodded.
“About time. What took so long?” Wynonna snapped. “Actually. Don’t answer that.” She shook her head. She liked Nicole, but she didn’t need to think about what the deputy might be doing to her baby sister.
“What’s going on?” Waverly asked. Wynonna had made it sound urgent over the phone.
“We’ve got another Revenant. This one’s a firebug.”
“Waves, I’m okay. You can stop fussing.” Nicole rolled her eyes as the younger woman reached for the singed ends of her hair.
“Nicole, you were on fire!”
“My hair was on fire, and it was just the ends!”
“Oh, well. That makes all the difference!” Chided Waverly as she followed after her in her apartment. “You could have been seriously hurt!”
“Well, I wasn’t. You were there to save the day.” Nicole smiled, rewarding her with a kiss. “I just wished there’d been something else closer than that milk churn to put it out with.” Her nose wrinkled in disgust as she sniffed at her self and was met with the odour of sour milk and singed hair.
“You’re welcome, babe.” Waverly pressed a kiss to her shoulder. They were both covered in soot and ash from the revenant setting the old Pierson barn on fire while they were in it. Waverly had fared better than her girlfriend though. Nicole was going to have to take a good couple of inches off the ends of her hair in order to salvage it.
“Do you want to shower first?” Nicole offered; though they both knew she was the one in greater need.
“You go first. Give me a holler if you need help scrubbing your back.”
“Tempting,” Nicole smirked at her. “But, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, not tonight... I’m exhausted.”
“Me too. Hurry up and shower so I can have my turn and then we can climb into bed and snuggle without smelling like overdone BBQ.”
Just realised it's been over two years since I updated this fic, and I am profoundly sorry for those who have been waiting so long for an update! I haven't been writing much for health reasons but I'm hoping to finish this off while in lock-down.
Waverly glanced anxiously at her watch for the third time in as many minutes. The lunchtime crowds had thinned out, and the bar was almost empty, save for a few of the regulars.
There were thirty-two whole minutes left of her shift. She was due to finish at two, and Nicole was picking her up. Waverly couldn’t wait. It had been a few days since their disastrous try at a sleepover. The couple had arranged to grab lunch at Nicole’s place - with their phones turned off and the door locked.
Waverly looked up from wiping the bar down as she heard the telltale creak of the front door opening. She’d hoped to find Nicole standing there, having got off work early, but she was disappointed to find a stranger standing in the doorway instead.
The unfamiliar black woman scanned the almost empty bar. Waverly wasn’t sure who she was looking for. She walked stiffly over to the bar and took a seat right in front of Waverly. Up close the woman was striking. She looked to be in her early thirties. Her rich brown skin appeared flawless, and she had a warm bronze glow to her cheeks as she smiled at Waverly. She tucked a strand of long dark hair behind her ear.
“Hi, can I get a latte please, and is it too late to order food?” The woman sounded American, though she had no discernible accent that Waverly could narrow down.
“Our cook just left. I can rustle you up a sandwich?” Waverly offered. She set about making the woman’s coffee while she looked over the menu.
“Is that for real?” The woman nodded at the sign hanging on the wall, proclaiming Wyatt Earp as a patron of the bar.
“Yup.” Answered Waverly. “Wyatt Earp was my great-great-grandfather. I’m Waverly by the way. Waverly Earp.”
“Wow. That must be neat; being related to the man himself.” The woman seemed genuinely impressed. “Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Waverly. I’m Meg.” She leaned across the bar and held her left hand out towards the younger woman.
“South paw, huh?” Waverly asked as she shook it, finding herself at a loss for anything else to say while the stranger was staring so intently at her.
“Oh. No, actually. I banged my ribs up a few weeks ago.” That explained why she had walked so stiffly from the door to the bar.
“Oh, jeez. That sounds painful. What happened?” Waverly placed Meg’s coffee down in front of her on top of a napkin. It was a poor attempt at making the place a bit more up market. Meg didn’t look like she spent a lot of time in bars during the day.
“Car versus truck. The truck won.”
“Why do I get the feeling you don’t drive a truck?” Laughed Waverly, her natural friendliness shining through as she chatted to the stranger.
Meg finally settled on a choice of sandwich and Waverly went to the kitchen out back to quickly make it. There was a slice of chocolate cake that she was supposed to be keeping for Wynonna, but Waverly figured the bar’s newest patron needed it more.
She added a side salad to the plate with the steak and cheese sandwich on and put the cake on another, smaller, plate before heading back through to the bar.
“We had some cake left over from the lunch menu. I figured you could use it… That is if you even like cake?”
“Do dogs bark?” Meg replied with a chuckle. “It looks delicious. Thank you, Waverly. That’s very kind of you.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. We’re a pretty friendly little town.” Waverly brushed off her thanks with an awkward smile and a blush as Meg was suddenly looking at her in a way that was overly friendly.
“I’m in town to see an old friend. I was supposed to be driving straight back to the city, but your charming little town has quite the appeal. I don’t suppose you could give me a tour?” Meg asked, blatantly flirting as she sat forward in her seat, leaning against the bar and flashing Waverly a dazzling smile.
“I…” Waverly’s brain was short circuiting. She was used to being hit on, but not by women. She was dating Nicole - and very much attracted to her - but she hadn’t considered her burgeoning sexuality beyond that. Was there suddenly a neon sign above her head that said ‘I dig chicks’?
“I’m… I’m seeing somebody.” Waverly finally spluttered out, much to the other woman’s disappointment.
“Lucky guy.” Meg shrugged with an easy smile, taking the rejection in her stride.
“Girl.” Waverly corrected. “I mean woman. I’m dating a woman.” She felt like her hole body was on fire from the blush that was rapidly spreading across her cheeks.
As if on queue the door of the bar opened and the woman in question stepped inside. Waverly felt a rush of relief. Her face lit up as Nicole tossed her a wave.
Meg followed her gaze to take in the newcomer. She shifted on her stool, her still healing ribs giving her some discomfort. “Figures.” She muttered under her breath, before greeting the sheriff’s deputy out loud. “Since when were you a day drinker, Haught?”
Nicole stopped abruptly. She was halfway between the bar and the door and wearing a look that might have been comical under different circumstances. “Meagan… What the hell are you doing here?”
“Meagan?” Waverly turned back to address the woman at the bar who had introduced herself as ‘Meg’. Car crash. Busted ribs. Old friend in Purgatory. Realisation hit Waverly like a freight train, physically knocking the wind out of her. “You’re Nicole’s ex? You two were engaged…”
“Engaged?” Meagan frowned. She looked from Nicole to Waverly, ignoring the pleading look Nicole was shooting her. “We weren’t engaged. We were married.”
“Married…” Waverly repeated the word like it was foreign on her tongue. Nicole hadn’t told her she’d been married. Being married and being engaged were two very different things.
“Waves-” Nicole started. She could see the anguish in Waverly’s face and she desperately wanted to make it right. Before she could get a chance to explain herself the door opened again and Gus walked in. She was there to take over from her niece.
Waverly didn’t bother greeting her. She gave Nicole a pointed look before turning and storming off up to the apartment above the bar.
“What’s going on?” Gus demanded, her eyes narrowing on an anxious Nicole. “What did you do?”
“I’m really sorry, Mrs McCready, but I don’t have time for this.” Nicole ignored the older woman’s protests as she took off after her girlfriend.
Meagan could wait.
The door leading to the apartment above the bar was ajar, as though Waverly had been expecting her to follow. Nicole stopped to knock anyway.
“Come in.” Waverly’s response was terse, but at least she hadn’t told her to go away. Nicole found her sitting on her old bed with her arms folded across her chest and a sour expression on her face.
“I should have told you the truth.” Nicole started, hoping Waverly would at least hear her out. “I’m sorry. I panicked. We were talking about who we last hooked up with and… and I thought if I said ‘my wife’ it might freak you out. So I… embellished the truth a little.”
“Embellished?” Said Waverly. She glared at the other woman in disbelief. “Seriously? That’s what you’re going with?” Nicole couldn’t look at her. She glanced away, rubbing awkwardly at the back of her neck.
“I didn’t lie, as such. I told you she asked me to marry her last year… I just didn’t add the part where we did.” She shrugged sheepishly. “We were married less than eight months. It was a mistake. Once she got out of the hospital - after the crash - I had my lawyer send her divorce paper.”
Waverly reached out for Nicole’s belt and tugged her closer, so she was standing between her parted knees. Nicole almost let out an actual sigh of relief as she reached for her hand and threaded their fingers together.
“What is she even doing here?” Waverly asked. “Did you invite her?”
“No.” Nicole took a seat beside her on the bed, still clutching her hand. She had no idea why Meagan had turned up in Purgatory.
“You should probably go back down there and see what she wants.”
“Yeah. I probably should.” Nicole agreed. She made no attempt to stand up, though. Using her free hand, she brushed Waverly’s hair back from her face. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I’d do if I screwed things up between us.”
“Let’s not find out. Ever.” Waverly huffed. Leaning forward into Nicole’s touch she kissed her on the lips. Nicole eagerly responded, bringing her other hand up to tangle itself in Waverly’s hair too. The kiss lasted far longer than either of them intended.
“We should go back downstairs.” Waverly was the first to pull away. Ever the goody-two-shoes, she didn’t want to be rude to their unexpected guest. “C’mon.” She stood up, pulling Nicole up along with her.
They could finish their discussion later.
Downstairs in the bar Wynonna had just walked in the door. “Hey Gus. Did Waves leave already?” She took a seat on the empty stool beside Meagan, giving the other woman an appreciative once over.
“She’s upstairs. With Nicole.” Gus was aggressively wiping down the bar top. She didn’t look very happy.
“Damn, those crazy kids just can’t keep their hands off each other, can they?” Wynonna grinned. Gus wasn’t amused.
“Waverly just stormed off. Nicole went off after her. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’m about five seconds away from going up there and giving that Nicole a piece of my mind!”
“Get in line.” Wynonna was already getting to her feet, intending to do just as Gus had said. The stranger at the bar reached out to touch her arm. Wynonna reeled back.
“I don’t mean to interrupt.” Meagan apologised. “It’s just, I know what they’re fighting about. It’s sort of my fault.” Before she could elaborate any further the two women walked back in to the bar hand in hand.
“What’s going on?” Wynonna demanded. She looked between Nicole and the stranger, waiting on someone to answer her. Waverly was the one who finally spoke up.
“Wynonna, Gus, this is Meagan. Nicole’s wife.”
“So that’s Mrs Haught, huh? She’s… well, hot.” Wynonna was smirking as she leaned across the bar and helped herself to a beer. Waverly swatted at her hands until she sat back down on her stool.
The youngest Earp lasted all of five seconds before she caved and started pulling her sister a beer. She slammed the glass down on the bar with far more force than was necessary. Some of it sloshed over the sides. “Yes. She is. She’s like stupidly hot.”
Waverly slumped against the bar, cradling her face in her hands. Wynonna gave her a sideways look as she flicked peanuts at her. “You okay?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know… She’s married, ‘Nonna! I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that!”
“Angry. Pissed off. Cheated. Feel whatever you want, just don’t bottle it up. Talk about it. Throw some shit if you have to.” Wynonna shrugged, “but talk to Nicole. She might be an up tight goody-goody, but she’s good for you. I haven’t seen you this happy in… like ever.”
“Since when did you get so wise?” Waverly glanced up at her big sister expectantly. Wynonna gave a shrug. She reached out and ruffled her fingers through Waverly’s hair.
“Since I came back here and started listening to my amazing little sister. Give Nicole a chance, Waves. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
Outside of the bar Nicole was leaning against the open drivers door of Meagan’s hire car. Meagan herself was sat in the drivers seat. Nicole glanced back at the bar before asking, “What are you doing here, Meagan?”
“It’s nice to see you too, Nick.” The other woman rolled her eyes at her. She reached over the central console for the glove box and popped it open, removing a large manila envelope from inside. She handed it over to Nicole.
“My lawyer got the divorce papers from yours. You put our date of separation as nine months ago. We can’t get a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences unless we’ve been separated for a year.”
“Oh god.” Nicole held her face in her hands. “It was so much easier getting married! Why does divorce have to be so complicated?”
“I had my lawyer change the dates.” Said Meagan. “Even uncontested it could take four to six months, but at least it’s in the works.”
“Thank you.” Nicole let out a sigh of relief. “I really appreciate this.” She had been the one to walk away. Meagan was well within her right to string the divorce along and fight her tooth and nail for everything they had once shared.
Nicole was thankful her soon to be ex-wife wasn’t like that. It had only taken one phone call for the two of them to come to an arrangement.
“But I didn’t have to come all the way here to tell you, right?” Meagan was grinning. She had always been able to see right through Nicole.
“I’m sorry. It’s not that it’s not great to see you it’s just-”
“Not great to see me.” Meagan finished for her. “I get it. I was just curious. I wanted to see what the big attraction was in this place. She’s cute.”
“She’s… amazing.” Nicole replied honestly. She had never expected to find someone like Waverly in a little town like Purgatory. She had never expected to find anyone like Waverly anywhere.
Meagan nodded, seemingly at peace with the fact that their marriage was officially over. “I’m glad you’re happy.” She said, and truly meant it.
“I think I’ve seen enough of Purgatory. I’m going to drive back to the city before I ruin your love life even more than I already have.” She meant it as a joke, but her laughter came out strained. She hadn’t meant to make things difficult for her ex.
“Are you even supposed to be driving yet?” Nicole was suspicious. It hadn’t been anywhere near long enough for Meagan’s ribs to have healed. She gave a half shrug, trying not to wince as she did so.
“I was cleared by a doctor.”
“And was that doctor you?” Nicole didn’t need her to answer. She knew the other woman all too well. “You’re not driving back. Give me five minutes.”
Nicole pushed herself off the car door and headed back inside Shorty’s. Waverly was more understanding than most people, but even she had her limits. She was sat at the bar with Wynonna when Nicole walked in. She looked expectantly at her girlfriend. “Where’s your wife?”
“Outside.” Nicole answered sheepishly. She rubbed at the back of her neck, choosing her next words carefully. “She shouldn’t be driving… I’m going to drive her back to the city and take the bus back tonight… Please don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad, and you’re not taking the bus back.” Waverly got to her feet and picked her purse up off the table. “I’ll follow you up in your truck. That way we might actually get a chance to spend some time together tonight. Okay?”
“Okay.” Nicole nodded, relief flooding through her. Waverly Earp really was something else. She took her hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Thank you.”
“Alright!” Wynonna abruptly knocked back her beer and stood up beside them. “Road trip!”
“Tell me again why I’m riding with you?” Nicole huffed over the steering wheel, peering out at the Lexus on the road in front of them.
“Because you’re a pussy and you can’t say no to my sister?” Wynonna answered flippantly. Nicole couldn’t argue with that. Somewhere between walking out of the bar and reaching the car park Waverly had decided she was driving Meagan back and Nicole would be taking her own truck - and Wynonna.
“Dude, didn’t anyone ever tell you not to let the girlfriend meet the wife?” Wynonna asked dryly, side-eyeing Nicole something fierce from the passenger seat. The deputy gripped the wheel a little tighter, turning her knuckles white.
“It was never my intention to hurt Waverly-” She started to explain, but Wynonna cut her off.
“Uh-uh. You didn’t hurt her. You pissed her off. You see, if you’d hurt my baby sister we’d be having a very different conversation right now.” As carefree as Wynonna could appear sometimes, there was something lurking just beneath the surface that was almost primal; especially when it came to Waverly.
Nicole did her best to ignore the fact that Wynonna was more than capable of killing for her family, and not just when it came to the Revenants and the Earp curse. She turned her head to look at the other woman. “I would die before I let anything happen to her, you know that right?”
“Oh I know you would.” Wynonna nodded, her double meaning hanging heavily between them. “Eyes on the road, Haught-Stuff. We don’t want any more accidents.”
Silence settled between them for a few minutes before Wynonna spoke up again. “So your ex, she’s hot. She seeing anyone?”
“Wynonna Earp, you are not screwing my ex-wife!” Nicole growled out. It was a sentence she had never expected herself to say.
“What?” The oldest Earp protested. “You’re doing my sister. It seems fair.” She shrugged like it was no big deal.
“It’s not… we’re not… Not that it’s any of your business, but Waverly and I haven’t… Not yet.” Nicole shifted uncomfortably in her seat, keeping her eyes glued to the road.
“Jeez, no wonder you’re so uptight all the time.”
“I am not uptight!” Nicole shrieked. She caught herself as Wynonna started grinning at her. “I am not uptight.” She repeated in a more even tone.
In the car ahead of the truck, Waverly Earp was enjoying the feeling of driving Meagan’s luxury sedan. They were on highway 1A, going past the Ghost River and heading in to Calgary. Waverly was pushing the speed limit.
“Careful. I think there’s a cop behind us.” Meagan teased as the speedometer inched even higher. They hadn’t been in the car very long, but Nicole’s ex had been friendly and talkative the whole time. She hadn’t bat an eyelid when Waverly had asked to drive her car.
“Ha, yeah. Funny.” Waverly forced a laugh she didn’t feel as she shifted in her seat. She was thinking it had been a mistake to drive with Meagan; except that the alternative had been Nicole driving her.
Waverly wasn’t the jealous type, but she couldn’t deny the green-eyed envy that was weaving its way through her insides.
“Look, Waverly, I know this can’t be easy for you and I want you to know I didn’t come here to make trouble.”
“And why did you? Come here, I mean.” Waverly asked, the question coming out terse. She felt a flash of guilt for being rude, even though Nicole’s ex was the rude one for showing up in town.
Waverly glanced in the rear-view mirror, comforted to find Nicole’s truck only two car lengths behind her. They were still hours away from the city and she was tempted to pull over and ask Wynonna to switch vehicles.
“I brought the divorce papers but, honestly, I wanted to make sure Nicole’s doing okay. And I can see she is.”
“Nicole said you wanted her to stop being a cop.” Said Waverly, fixing her attention back on the road. “That you were scared she might get hurt.”
“She got hurt. She got shot, twice. I couldn’t spend every day worrying about her ending up on my operating table again… or worse. I guess being a small town deputy is safer than a big city cop.”
Waverly swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. That might have been true in any other town than Purgatory. At least Nicole knew the truth about their tiny town now, and the dangers of being associated with the Earps; dangers Waverly was promptly reminded of when her phone rang ten minutes later.
“What?” She snapped at her sister, taking her sour mood out on Wynonna.
“Don’t shoot the messenger, Baby-Girl. Dolls just called, we’ve got some family business to take care of.” Said Wynonna, speaking in code in-case Waverly had her on speaker.
The younger Earp swore under her breath as she spotted Nicole’s truck pulling over up ahead of them. She did the same, parking Meagan’s car right behind Nicole’s.
“Everything okay?” Asked Meagan.
“Yeah, Wynonna and I just have a work thing. Nicole will drive you back.” Waverly unbuckled her seatbelt just as Nicole stepped out of her truck. “It was nice meeting you, Meagan.”
“You too, Waverly.”
Climbing out of the car, Waverly met Nicole halfway between the two vehicles. The snow had started up again and both women’s jackets were covered in a light dusting by the time they were standing face to face. “Waves, I-”
“It’s okay.” Waverly didn’t give her a chance to apologize. Closing the distance between the two of them, she wrapped the taller woman up in a tight squeeze and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Call me when you get back tonight, okay? No matter how late.”
A short, but hopefully sweet, chapter to end things. Thank you to everyone who has stuck around waiting for me to finish this, and as ever, thanks for reading!
The night bus to Purgatory was easily one of the dullest experiences of Nicole’s life. She’d heard all the warnings from Waverly and Wynonna about not getting off for anything, but after a few hours on the bus she would have welcomed the distraction of a Revenant.
It was after two in the morning when the bus finally pulled up in the small town Nicole had come to think of as home. Waverly had stopped texting her back over an hour ago, and Nicole was certain she’d fallen asleep. She’d promised to call her when she got back, but it was later than Nicole expected.
She trudged off the bus, her boots hitting snow three inches deep as she stepped onto the pavement. The night air was still but frigid. It bit at her hands and cheeks as she walked along the main street and passed the police station.
Nicole shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket to stave off frostbite. She was grateful her apartment was so close to the centre of town and it only took her five minutes and a brisk walk to get there.
She stamped her feet to remove the snow from her boots before using her key to let herself into the communal hallway of her building. Nicole crept up to the third floor, not wanting to disturb any of her neighbours; her landlord in particular.
The inside of her apartment felt like an oven compared to the weather outside. Nicole must have left the heat on before she left for Shorty’s earlier. She shrugged off her coat and hung it up on the rack by the door. Her boots followed suit.
A soft ‘meow’ came from down the hall and Flora padded into the living room at a leisurely place. She greeted Nicole with a purr, circling her legs to welcome her home.
“Hey, girl.” Said Nicole, bending down to stroke her. “You missed me, huh?” The cat hung around until she’d had her fill, then stalked off to Nicole’s bedroom to settle back to sleep.
Nicole followed her. She stopped in the doorway, a huge grin spreading its way across her lips as she found Waverly Earp curled up in her bed. She still had her own key and had obviously let herself in to surprise Nicole, though she’d fallen asleep waiting for her.
Nicole stripped off and changed for bed before climbing in beside the younger woman. She pulled Waverly’s hair back from her face and pressed a kiss to her cheek.
The younger woman stirred with a soft sigh, arching back into Nicole. “Hi.” She said, still half asleep.
“Hey.” Nicole replied in-between peppering her with kisses. “This is a a pleasant surprise.”
“Hmm, I was waiting for you, I must have fallen asleep.” Waverly turned her head, meeting Nicole’s mouth with her own. “What time is it?”
“It’s late. You should go back to sleep.” Nicole herself had been exhausted until she’d walked in and found her girlfriend lying in her bed. Now she was wide awake, but she didn’t want to keep Waverly up if she was tired.
“Not a chance…” Waverly muttered, now awake and kissing her with purpose as she moved to climb on top of the other woman. Pleasantly surprised, Nicole didn’t bother arguing with her.
Waverly was wearing a beige silk slip, Nicole thought it might be new. “We didn’t get to have our date earlier, because of your wife-and-all.”
“I know. Waves, I’m so-”
Waverly cut her off with an open mouth kiss that lingered, a promise of things to come. “You already said sorry. Why don’t you try making it up to me some other way?” She said, with a suggestive lilt to her voice and a look so intense that Nicole felt like she might spontaneously combust.
“Uh, are you… are you sure about this?” Nicole asked, trying to make sure they were both on the same page. The last thing she wanted was to rush Waverly into anything.
“Very sure.” Waverly brought Nicole’s hands up to rest on her hips, encouraging her to touch her.
Nicole bit her lip. “It feels like every time we try this something comes up… Usually it’s your sister…”
“It’s the middle of the night. Wynonna will be passed out drunk by now. For once we’ll have no interruptions.”
“Don’t jinx it!” Nicole laughed, sitting up she pressed her face into Waverly’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around her waist, squeezing her tight. She muttered something that Waverly couldn’t quite catch.
“What was that?”
Nicole pulled back and looked up at her, a determined expression on her face. “I said… I love you, Waverly Earp.”
Waverly stared at her without saying a word, lips parted and eyes wide. Fearing she’d overstepped the mark, Nicole hastily added, “You don’t have to-”
Waverly cut her off again with a kiss. It was becoming a habit; one Nicole could get used to. “I love you too.” Waverly sighed into her open mouth and it was like a switch flipped in Nicole’s brain.
She flipped their positions, with Waverly letting out a yelp of surprise, and pinned the younger woman beneath her with a grin.
“I think I owe Margery Thompson a thank you.”
“You can get her a fruit basket, in the morning!” Waverly tugged Nicole’s bed shirt over her head with a giggle. “Right now, you still owe me an apology.”